BETRAYED by dad…he STOLE my life savings

Dad stole my inheritance

by take-a-break |
Updated on

Since losing her mum, Hollie’s father was all she had. So how could he stoop so low?

Dad stole my life savings
Hollie as a child with her parents

As cheers rang out around the stadium, Dad and I leapt into the air.

‘Goal!’ I yelled with delight, before wrapping my arms around him.

For as long as I could remember, my dad Christopher would take me to watch Chelsea’s football matches.

After my mum passed away when I was five, Dad became my carer.

I had cerebral palsy – a group of disorders that affect movement and coordination – so I relied on him to help me with day-to-day tasks.

Soon after Mum died, Dad met someone else, but my relationship with my step-mum was strained.

And it seemed to me that Dad would take her side over mine.

As the years passed, Dad and I started rowing. He was drinking a lot and it affected his mood. It broke my heart.

Even though I was almost 20 and needed my freedom, it was as if he didn’t want me to grow up.

One day, I was invited to a friend’s birthday party.

Excited to dress up and have fun, I told Dad about my plans.

Only, he cut me off.

‘You can’t go, I don’t even know where they live,’ he said.

‘I’ll give you their address,’ I pleaded, but he stood firm, banning me from going.

Sometimes, it felt as if my pet Labrador Tazzie was my only friend.

A few months later, my uncle died. My auntie told me he’d left me an inheritance.

I was surprised by his gesture because I didn’t know him well, but I was touched.

I didn’t know how much he’d left me and didn’t understand very much about money, but Dad explained it to me.

‘It would have gone to your mum, but as she’s passed away, it goes to you,’ he said.

He told me I could use it to buy a house or save it.

‘I’ll keep the card and PIN so I can look after it for you,’ he said.

‘Thank you,’ I replied, grateful.

A couple of years later, my pet died. I was devastated.

‘Can we get another dog?’ I asked Dad.

At first, he was reluctant, saying it was difficult for me to look after a pet because of my disability, but eventually, he agreed.

Elsa, a gentle golden Labrador, was my shadow and seemed to know when I was down.

Dad stole my inheritance
Holly with Elsa her dog

One day, I was checking my bank statements when I noticed thousands of pounds were missing from my account.

I had bought a new laptop and TV but knew I should have had much more in my account than the balance showed.

‘Dad, something strange is going on,’ I told him, showing him my statements.

‘Don’t worry, I’ll sort it out,’ he said.

I trusted him.

But over the next few weeks and months, our relationship broke down.

He was overbearing, his drinking had got worse and he stopped me from going out.

Meanwhile, the money was still disappearing from my account at an alarming rate.

I had recently started college and had a friend called Adam. I confided in him and his mum Nikki who agreed I could stay with them. Living under the same roof as Dad had become too difficult.

Dad stole £30,000
Holly and her friend Adam

‘I’m moving out,’ I said to Dad.

I packed my things and met Adam at the train station.

Only Dad turned up, ordering me to come home.

In floods of tears, I called Nikki for advice.

‘You have to call the police,’ she said.

I couldn’t believe it had come to this – calling the police on my own dad – but he’d left me no choice.

Eventually, they turned up and told him he had to let me leave.

Back home, a sick realisation dawned.

‘I think my dad is stealing from me,’ I said to Adam.

I hadn’t wanted to believe it, but he was the only other person with my PIN and bank card.

I broke down in his arms, unable to stop crying.

‘It’ll be OK,’ Nikki and Adam consoled.

After calling my auntie, she phoned Dad.

A few minutes later, she rang me back.

‘He confessed everything, he’s been stealing from your inheritance fund,’ she said.

It felt as if my heart had shattered into a million pieces.

I listened in shock as she said he had admitted ‘borrowing’ some of the £30,000 my uncle had left me and using it for his mortgage repayments at first, before spending it on himself – buying food, drink and diesel.

I couldn’t comprehend that my dad had ransacked my trust fund – my future.

After three years of dipping into it, there was just a few hundred pounds left.

‘What are you going to do?’ Nikki asked.

I had a tough decision to make: Did I call the police or not?

It was agony, but after a week of thinking about it, I decided to ring them.

I was in tears throughout my video statement and felt racked with guilt, even though I knew he’d broken my trust and the law.

If dad had called to say he was sorry, I wouldn’t have taken it further.

But he didn’t even send me a text to apologise.

It was such a horrendous time and I missed Elsa’s support.

Only, when I asked Dad to give her to me, he refused.

‘If you want her, you have to come home,’ he said.

If stealing my money wasn’t enough, he had robbed me of my best friend too.

We were forced to go to court to get her back.

As she stared at me with her chocolate brown eyes, tears ran down my face.

‘I’ll never leave you again,’ I cried, cuddling her.

Meanwhile, as we waited for Dad’s court case to start, I wrote to him.

Despite what he’d done, he was still my father and I was worried about his drinking problem.

I’m worried you will die like Mum did, I wrote.

I’m begging you to get help.

In time, my dad, Christopher Hughes, 60, appeared at Maidstone Crown Court, where he admitted two charges of theft.

I avoided looking at him; it was too painful.

Nikki and Adam were in court supporting me – they were amazing.

During the hearing, I found out he had bought Elsa with my inheritance. I wouldn’t have minded as she was worth every penny, but he hadn’t even told me.

In my victim impact statement, I said I was ‘devastated and traumatised’ by the theft and it had affected my mental health.

Simon Smith, defending, said my Dad — who described himself as a functioning alcoholic — was ‘deeply ashamed and sorry’ for what he’d done.

Before sentencing, the judge, Recorder Andrew Walker QC, paused to ask me if jailing Dad would have a negative impact on my welfare.

After saying it wouldn’t, he jailed him for 18 months.

Calling the theft a ‘gross breach of trust’, he told him: ‘She placed trust in you as her father and carer. She was a woman with a physical disability.

When she found out what you had done, she left the house in such a hurry that she did not take her dog with her. You then refused to give back the dog on several occasions.

I am now told the dog is now back with her and she is caring for her.’

The court heard that Dad was in the process of returning my missing cash after releasing equity from his home.

I have mixed emotions about what’s happened.

He’ll always be my dad but it’s going to take a long time to build bridges after he broke my trust.

It’s heartbreaking that he let his greed shatter our bond.

Hollie Hughes, 25, Tunbridge, Kent

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