Caretaker, 62, found guilty of starving live-in landlord to death in attempt to inherit £ 1.5 million estate

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A caretaker who deliberately starved her live-in landlord to inherit part of his multimillion-pound estate was convicted of murder today after his skeletal body was found next to a McDonald’s sign.

Lynda Rickard and her husband Wayne moved to an Oxfordshire farm on 60 acres of land owned by James ‘Anthony’ Sootheran in 2006.

The 62-year-old took care of his elderly mother Joy Sootheran, but despite receiving £ 47,000 a year in her role, she soon began to use the woman’s money as her own.

Lynda, a mother of three, had previously admitted to forging Ms. Sootheran’s will in an attempt to acquire half of her £ 1.5 million estate.

She also admitted that she made the will of Mr. Sootheran, the pensioner’s only son.

She claimed Mr. Sootheran’s death was entirely accidental because she had forged his will, and said it was the result of his own self-neglect.

On Friday, however, a jury convicted her of murder. Her husband was convicted of causing or permitting the death of a vulnerable adult and once for fraud and disruption of justice.

The jury heard how 59-year-old Mr. Sootheran lived a secluded life, and Lynda Rickard took advantage of his vulnerabilities by isolating him and keeping family and friends at bay.

Behind closed doors and out of sight of loved ones, Lynda Rickard was then able to deliberately deny Anthony food, drink, and medical care to the point of starving him to death.

Just 18 months after his mother died of dementia, the skeletal body of the father of one was discovered alongside a plate of chocolate bars, a donut and a bag of McDonald’s that “ looked fresher than him, ” according to a jury. heard.

Caretaker Lynda Rickard, who deliberately starved her live-in landlord to inherit part of his multimillion-pound estate, was convicted of murder today after his skeletal body was found next to a McDonald’s sign.

Lynda Rickard and her husband Wayne moved to a farm in Oxfordshire in 2006 on 60 acres of land owned by James 'Anthony' Sootheran (pictured).

Lynda Rickard and her husband Wayne moved to a farm in Oxfordshire in 2006 on 60 acres of land owned by James ‘Anthony’ Sootheran (pictured).

In his younger days, retired auctioneer Mr Sootheran weighed 17 stones, but when he was found dead, he weighed only nine stones.

On Friday, a jury convicted 62-year-old Lynda Rickard for murder and one time for fraud.

She had previously given in to two counts of forgery; four counts of fraud; disturbance of justice; conspiracy to disrupt the course of justice, and possession of items for use in fraudulent use.

Wayne Rickard, 66, who was in frequent contact with Mr. Sootheran and would have been aware of how seriously he was ill in the days before his death, did not intervene to help him.

He was convicted of causing or permitting the death of a vulnerable adult, once for fraud and for disrupting the course of justice.

The Rickards, of Edinburgh Close, Banbury, Oxfordshire, were both taken into custody prior to their sentencing at Reading Crown Court on 1 June.

The 62-year-old took care of his elderly mother Joy Sootheran (pictured), but despite receiving £ 47,000 a year in her role, she soon began to use the woman's money as her own.  Mother of three Lynda had previously admitted to forging Ms Sootheran's will in an attempt to acquire half of her £ 1.5m estate

The 62-year-old took care of his elderly mother Joy Sootheran (pictured), but despite receiving £ 47,000 a year in her role, she soon began using the woman’s money as her own. Mother of three Lynda had previously admitted to forging Ms Sootheran’s will in an attempt to acquire half of her £ 1.5 million estate

Senior Crown Attorney Robbie Weber said, “While living rent-free with her husband on High Havens Farm, Lynda Rickard donated tens of thousands of pounds of the Sootherans’ money.

But that was not enough. In fact, as we’ve proven, she was willing to intentionally starve Anthony so that she could inherit a significant portion of his fortune.

Lynda Rickard has consistently tried to cover her tracks with a web of lies passed on to friends, family, counselors and financial professionals.

“We are delighted that the jury has convicted the Rickards for their crimes, in what we understand is a milestone, and we hope this brings some sense of justice to the loved ones of Joy and Anthony Sootheran.”

Alongside the Rickards on the dock were 51-year-old Shanda Robinson, Denise Neal, 41, and 49-year-old Michael Dunkley, who were reportedly “ embroiled in the dishonesty. ”

Robinson, of Banbury, Oxfordshire, was convicted Friday of fraud and conspiracy to disrupt the course of justice.

Neal, from Lower Tysoe, Warwickshire and Dunkley, also from Banbury, were both convicted of fraud on Friday.

The jury heard how 59-year-old Mr. Sootheran lived a secluded life, and Lynda Rickard took advantage of his vulnerabilities by isolating him and keeping family and friends at bay.  Pictured: The property of Mr Sootheran, High Havens farm, in Oxfordshire

The jury heard how 59-year-old Mr. Sootheran lived a secluded life, and Lynda Rickard took advantage of his vulnerabilities by isolating him and keeping family and friends at bay. Pictured: The property of Mr Sootheran, High Havens farm, in Oxfordshire

Behind closed doors and out of sight of loved ones, Lynda Rickard was then able to deliberately deny Mr. Sootheran food, drink, and medical care to the point of starving him to death

Behind closed doors and out of sight of loved ones, Lynda Rickard was then able to deliberately deny Mr. Sootheran food, drink, and medical care to the point of starving him to death

Just 18 months after his mother died of dementia, the skeletal body of the father of one was discovered alongside a plate of chocolate bars, a donut and a bag of McDonald's that `` looked fresher than him, '' a jury heard.  Pictured: Mr Sootheran's bedroom

Just 18 months after his mother died of dementia, the skeletal body of the father of one was discovered alongside a plate of chocolate bars, a donut and a bag of McDonald’s that “ looked fresher than him, ” according to a jury. heard. Pictured: Mr Sootheran’s bedroom

Meanwhile, 78-year-old June Alsford had previously admitted to fraud and conspiracy to disrupt the course of justice ahead of the trial.

To take the case to court, the Crown Prosecution Service reviewed more than 20,000 pages of evidence, presented detailed medical, financial and handwritten evidence, and relied on the reports of hundreds of witnesses.

Medical evidence played a vital role in proving that Mr. Sootheran had been seriously neglected and starving in the weeks leading up to his death.

Robbie explained, “Medical experts have confirmed that Anthony would have been immobile in the weeks before his death and would therefore be completely dependent on Lynda Rickard for food, drink and sanitation.

Wayne Rickard, 66, who had frequent contact with Mr. Sootheran and would have been aware of how seriously ill he was in the days before his death, did not intervene to offer him assistance

Wayne Rickard, 66, who had frequent contact with Mr. Sootheran and would have been aware of how seriously ill he was in the days before his death, did not intervene to offer him assistance

But she deliberately neglected him and his health deteriorated rapidly.

She made no attempt to get help for him in the last days of his life, when medical treatment could have saved his life.

This is because, after she forged his will, she needed him to die so she could claim their inheritance for her family.

In the case of Wayne Rickard, we were able to prove that he played a role in Anthony’s death, because despite living in the same house as Anthony, he took no steps to protect him when it would have been obvious that his wife life in danger. ‘

Prior to the trial, Lynda Rickard admitted several allegations related to her use of the Sootherans’ money, as well as falsified wills and leases, after evidence examined by financial and handwriting experts revealed the scale of her protracted fraud campaign when she was at High Haven Farm.

Her boyfriend, June Alsford, admitted fraudulently to signing the wills that Ms. Rickard had forged and tried to assert them, allegations to which the jury found another friend Shanda Robinson guilty at trial.

Two other friends, Michael Dunkley and Denise Neal, were also convicted of fraudulently signing the forged wills.

In addition, the jury convicted both Lynda and Wayne Rickard for fraudulently using Joy Sootheran’s money to purchase a Mitsubishi Shogun worth approximately £ 30,000 and Wayne Rickard for disrupting the judicial process.

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