Perth man spared jail after mercy plea from severely disabled parents he stole £15,000 from

David Webster leaves Perth Sherriff Court
David Webster leaves Perth Sherriff Court

A MAN who stole £15,000 from his severely disabled parents was spared jail – after they wrote to a sheriff begging him to show leniency.

Wheelchair-bound Donald and Kathleen Webster penned a letter pleading for mercy to be shown to their grown-up son despite knowing he had ripped them off for more than five years.

David Webster, 32, of Appin Terrace in Perth, admitted helping himself to thousands of pounds from his parents’ bank accounts.

But mum Kathleen, who is paralysed down her left-hand side, told The Sunday Post she was glad when he walked free from court.

The 55-year-old said: “He has learnt his lesson and has apologised.

“We are both disabled, so we need both our sons around.

“And David looks after his step-son who is autistic.

“We wanted him to be punished in some way, but we did not want him to go to jail. We didn’t want him to be put in danger.”

The mum-of-two, whose husband Donald suffers from cerebral palsy, said the couple only found out about the missing £15,000 when they needed to pay for two family funerals.

They discovered David had been using internet banking to withdraw cash from their accounts.

He later admitted in court that between January 2011 and June 2016 he embezzled £15,000.

“I felt more angry than betrayed, because if he had asked for the money I would have given it to him,” Kathleen explained.

“My youngest son James went to the social work and they decided to bring in the police.

“David was not allowed near us for more than a year – that was the police’s idea. It took about a year for our relationship to get back to normal.

“When we met him again, we said, ‘Don’t do it again.’ He promised not to and said he had learnt his lesson.”

Perth Sheriff Court heard David offered no explanation of his callous actions when questioned by police.

But defence lawyer Pauline Cullerton insisted he took “full responsibility” and showed “genuine remorse”.

She said: “It is his view that his actions have ripped the family apart.

“He is remorseful, ashamed and has not found the experience a particularly pleasant one. Prison would serve no purpose other than to restrict his liberty.

“He has £10,000 in cash which he is willing to use to repay his parents and will repay the remaining £5000.”

Sheriff Gillian Wade said: “The terms of the family’s letter make it clear they are supporting him and doing as much as they can to secure a non-custodial disposal.

“It is fundamentally important the sums are repaid, so Mr and Mrs Webster can enjoy the best quality of life. You must repay so your parents are put back in the position they would be in, but for your crime.”

She told David: “I read with care the letter from your father and it is clear he would suffer as much, if not more, than you if you were incarcerated for this offence. Your mother also requires your support.”

She gave him one week to hand over the £10,000 and ordered him to pay the rest at £300 per month.

He was also told to carry out 200 hours unpaid work.