Man sentenced following theft from elderly victims

23 March 2011

Antony Ralph Barlow

A 70-year-old man who stole more than £160,000 from the bank accounts of two elderly people in ill health was sentenced at Croydon Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday 22 March) to more than three years in prison.

Antony Ralph Barlow, of Burns Court, Park Hill Road, Wallington, had pleaded guilty on the 15 February at the same court to six counts of theft from a 72-year-man, now deceased, and five counts of theft from a 94-year-old woman.

"This was an appalling breach of trust against two elderly victims who looked upon Anthony Barlow as a trusted friend during their failing health."

Barlow's victims had extensive, well-known connections in the world of theatre, opera and entertainment. He had purported to be a friend to both of them.

Over a period of 4 months, prior to the man's death in January 2007, Barlow stole £100,800 from his bank accounts. The victim who had been a self employed theatrical impresario, responsible for various productions in theatre and opera, lived in central London and had been suffering from ill health since 2006. Towards the end of his life he was incapacitated, bedridden and his mental condition had deteriorated.

When the deceased's niece became the administrator of her uncle's estate she became suspicious of transactions on her uncle's bank accounts, including ATM withdrawals from Wallington, as well as direct money transfers.

In October 2007 the niece, who lives in Somerset, reported her concerns to police and the investigation was passed to Metropolitan Police Service as Barlow lived in Sutton borough.

Barlow's other victim was a one-time successful actress, writer and stage director, who went on to own and run one of the first theatrical and literary agencies from the late 1950s.

During 2007 Barlow started to assist the woman, who lives in south London, on a voluntary basis. Due to her hearing and sight impairments he was able to have unrestricted access to her bank accounts.

The police investigation discovered the victim’s accounts were overdrawn as well as letters from bailiffs, unpaid bills and final demands. A total of 136 of her cheques, of varying amounts from £50 to £2,300, were made out for the benefit of Barlow between 31 May 2007 and 27 July 2009. The total value of these cheques amounted to £67,312.

On 9 September 2010 Barlow was charged with theft against both victims.

Sentencing him to 3 years and 4 months in prison the Judge described Barlow as a “vile man”.

Detective Sergeant Andy Wickens, of Sutton CID, who led the investigation, said: "This was an appalling breach of trust against two elderly victims who looked upon Anthony Barlow as a trusted friend during their failing health."