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Stepfather jailed for family fraud

An Aldwick man has been jailed for defrauding his stepson out of an inheritance of £59,000 from his father.


Iain Cochrane Shepherd, who was made an MBE in 2015 for his services to the marine industry and the economy of Chichester, was told by Judge William Ashworth he had shown a clear abuse of trust and the offence was ‘calculated with an aspect of greed’.


His stepson, Joshua, told the court in a victim impact statement he had been affected emotionally and financially by Shepherd’s actions.


Joshua, who is studying for a degree in paleontology, planned to use the money to pay off his student loan. He also expected to find it hard to find a job because he had ADHD.


“Shepherd is fully aware of my disabilities and has no compassion for me or my mother who has fought for me all her life,” he stated.


“My deceased father thought Shepherd was a friend as they had both been naval officers.


“He is a despicable human being, only interested in his standing in society.”


Shepherd was in Portsmouth Crown Court for sentencing on Tuesday, having pleaded guilty to fraud and twice failing to attend hearings.


Judge Ashworth said that, despite being challenged, Shepherd, 65, of Aldwick Road, had prevaricated and repeatedly lied.


Failing to attend earlier court hearings had caused substantial delay and the victim was particularly vulnerable.


For the fraud, Shepherd was jailed for three years and six months with two further sentences of two months each, concurrently, for failing to appear in court, making a total of three years and eight months, with up to half in custody.


A compensation order of £19,497 would be made to the Official Receiver as this sum was available subsequent to the bankruptcy.


The court was told the fraud arose as a result of the death of Stephen Powell in January, 2004, when Joshua was eight.


He died intestate but entrusted Shepherd to look after the boy’s interests.


The £83,255 proceeds from the sale of the Powells’ family home in December 2006 were paid into a bank account in Shepherd’s name.


A year later, Shepherd became Joshua’s stepfather for whom he was a legal trustee. Just over £20,000 was withdrawn from the account to pay for outstanding debts from the estate, leaving £58,895.


The prosecution said Shepherd took money out of the account, which he controlled, mostly as cash withdrawals of £300 and £200 between December, 2006, and February, 2010. There was £1.64 remaining.


In addition, Shepherd was an undischarged bankrupt and was ineligible to become a trustee for Joshua, who lives in Chichester with his mother.


Shepherd represented himself in court and said he apologised unreservedly to everyone affected and was deeply sorry.


“I have been fairly dreadful and drinking too much for too many years,” he said. He aimed to repay the money and intended to sell stock from his business. He believed his bankruptcy order from 1996 had expired after a year and had not received any communication about it until 2017.

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