Jailed for life for the murder and defrauding of her live-in landlord
Minimum term of 28 years for woman found guilty of the murder and defrauding of a South Newington man
A Banbury woman has today been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder and defrauding of her live-in landlord back in 2014. 62 year old Lynda Rickard of Edinburgh Close in Banbury was found guilty at Reading Crown Court on Friday. She has been told she must serve a minimum term of 28 years.
The court had heard that James Anthony Sootheran, known as Anthony Sootheran was controlled, isolated, and defrauded before tragically dying at High Havens Farm in South Newington.
Lynda Rickard’s intention had been to inherit Mr Sootheran’s estate which was valued at approximately £3.5 million.
Her 66-year-old husband Wayne Rickard was found guilty of causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult, and was jailed for 10 years and six months’. He had been cleared of murder.
Both Rickards were also found guilty of a separate count of fraud, while Wayne Rickard was also convicted of a count of perverting the course of justice.
Three other defendants involved in the trial were also convicted for their roles in the callous defrauding of Mr Sootheran and his mother Joy.
Denise Neal, 41, of Lower Tysoe in Warwickshire, and Michael Dunkey, 49, of Milcombe, were both found guilty of fraud relating to Anthony’s forged will. Neal was sentenced to two years’ and three months’ imprisonment. Dunkley was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment
Shanda Robinson, 51, of Sage Close in Banbury was convicted of fraud and perverting the course of public justice. She was sentenced to two years’ and eight months’ imprisonment
A sixth defendant, June Alsford, 78, of Aynho had previously pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice relating to Joy’s forged will. She was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Howard, of the Major Crime Unit, said: “I would first like to take the opportunity to pay tribute to Anthony’s family, and particularly his daughter Hannah, who have had to wait seven years for the awful truth to be established regarding how Anthony died, and for those responsible for his death to be brought to justice.
“I cannot even begin to imagine what Anthony’s family have been through during this time. Their dignity and patience have been remarkable; and on behalf of the prosecution team I would like to thank them for their unwavering support over the last seven years, and in particular in the last four years, since they became aware that Anthony’s death was being investigated as a potential homicide.
“I have been a police officer for almost 22 years and this is the most cruel and wicked set of circumstances that I have dealt with regarding the killing of one human being by another.
“I find it difficult to conceive how one human being can starve another human being to death whilst living under the same roof a matter of feet away.
“The fact that Anthony was killed by the actions of somebody who purported to care for him is shocking enough. However the fact that this was carried out in his own home by Lynda Rickard, who had assumed the property as her own; whilst she systematically stole thousands of pounds from Anthony and his mother Joy; and whilst she attempted to defraud the valuable Sootheran estate is simply horrific and demonstrates the cruel, deliberate and calculated plan that was developed and executed over a number of years.
“While Lynda Rickard carried out the murder of Anthony by depriving him of food, water and medical care, her husband Wayne knew exactly what she was doing, and simply allowed it to happen.
“An example of Lynda’s deliberate actions in blatantly ignoring Anthony’s obvious health concerns came just a month before he died. In February 2014, she dialled 111 and explained that Anthony had fallen. After being advised to either take Anthony to hospital or to call back if she was unable to get him there, Lynda Rickard ignored both pieces of advice. From this moment it is apparent that Anthony was immobile, unable to care for himself and was entirely reliant on Lynda for survival.
“Not only this, but she also deliberately blocked numerous visiting efforts by medical professionals, along with preventing Anthony’s friends and family from seeing him. This would have only heightened Anthony’s feelings of loneliness. A truly cruel action to take against someone who was already vulnerable.
“Lynda and Wayne Rickard exploited Anthony and Joy in the most callous way possible. Anthony’s vulnerabilities were well known and Lynda Rickard manipulated them to conceal her crimes from the eyes of others and to minimise the risk of professionals and those closest to Anthony recognising exactly what she was doing.
“This enabled them to feed their greed for a number of years.
“Even Anthony’s death was not enough to curb the Rickard’s greed and thousands of pounds was stolen from his accounts after March 2014.
“The Rickards wanted it all, and ultimately it was their greed that was their undoing.
“In order to develop her plan Lynda Rickard used her own friends to forge both Joy and Anthony’s wills and other tenancy documents. Shanda Robinson, Denise Neal and Michael Dunkley and June Alsford all knowingly played their part in this plan and have been sentenced for their actions.
“This conviction is understood to have made legal history by it being the first time that a murder conviction has related to the deliberate starvation of an adult victim.
“The sentences handed down to Lynda and Wayne Rickard today properly reflect the true horror of their actions and I hope that Anthony’s family and friends will see these sentences as justice for him, even though they will in no way atone for the suffering that he had to endure.
“Anthony and Joy were targeted due to their wealth, and this case demonstrates the real risk of financial exploitation that vulnerable members of society can face. If anybody has concerns that somebody they know may be at risk of financial exploitation I urge them to report it to the police so that the matter can be investigated and steps to safeguard can be taken.”
Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam