Addicted to gambling, Fiona Margaret Wilton systematically stole $92,000 from her elderly, ill father to feed her habit.
The offending was only discovered when the aged man's rest home bill got into arrears.
Appearing before Judge Tony Walsh in Masterton District Court yesterday, Wilton aka Teal, 41, through her lawyer Virginia Pearson, pleaded guilty to three charges of theft by a person in a special relationship. Police then withdrew a fourth charge.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Garry Wilson said in 2009 Wilton's father was diagnosed with Parkinson's and had a heart problem. By 2011, he was unable to drive and Wilton started looking after him, given control of his finances and bank accounts.
The man moved into a rest home in 2012 and, late last year, the home contacted his son to advise his bills hadn't been paid and the money was discovered missing from the man's bank account.
Mr Wilson said Wilton withdrew money from her father's account 112 times between February 2011 and December 2013, stealing $21,200. During the same period she used his Eftpos card 63 times, withdrawing $62,500 and bought a car for $5000. On July 2 last year, she redeemed her father's bonus bonds worth $7490.
In total, Wilton stole $91,948 from her father, telling police "she had a gambling problem and she had spent the money", the sergeant said.
Wilton was living in her father's home throughout the offending.
It's not the first time Wilton has stolen money. The Times-Age can now reveal that in 2011 she was sentenced to community detention after she and her then partner, Dalkeith Te Heke Matiaha, 47, defrauded Work and Income out of nearly $110,000.
Both claimed the solo parent's benefit during their four-year relationship, including two years after their children had left home and while they were earning money through karaoke business, Madsounz Entertainment.
Wilton has been remanded on bail for a pre-sentence report and sentencing on July 31.
A spokesman for the family says they are devastated by Wilton's actions which has left the victim struggling in his latter years after a hard working life. "He worked his whole life and now he has nothing."
A woman who used to go running with the victim, said he was a generous, thoughtful man who didn't deserve to be ripped off. "He's always put others before himself," she said.
Meanwhile elder abuse is more common than most people want to believe, says Masterton Age Concern's Lorraine Katterns.
"Our community is almost in denial on this issue," she said. "It's a hidden problem ... it's not that easily identifiable but sadly it's not that unusual. These people take advantage of the good will of the older person."
Ms Katterns has a number of people on her books experiencing some form of elder or financial abuse from family members or caregivers. Many older people won't talk about it for fear they might be cut off themselves.
"It's sad," she said. "Old people are very reluctant to speak up. They want the relationship to continue but for the abuse to stop. "Some of them have dementia and they don't even know what they are entitled to. It leaves them vulnerable."
If you know someone in this sort of situation or are an older person needing support or experiencing elder abuse, please call Age Concern on (06) 377 0066.