Barbara Tannock was released on bail on Monday pending a social inquiry report. She admitted stealing money from an elderly couple. *File photo
Barbara Tannock was released on bail on Monday pending a social inquiry report. She admitted stealing money from an elderly couple. *File photo

MONDAY, MAY 7, 5PM UPDATE: A former financial consultant to an elderly couple today admitted stealing $76,500 from them.

Barbara Tannock, 42, was due to have her theft trial begin this morning. But after a lengthy hearing in chambers, she changed her plea on five of the 10 counts.

Tannock admitted stealing a total of $76,500 from Albertine Alice and Vorhees Place between July 20, 2009 and January 25, 2010.

She pleaded guilty to stealing $13,000 from the couple on July 20, 2009.

She also admitted stealing $12,500 from Mrs Place, 86, between August 28 to September 11, 2009; $20,000 between November 20 and November 26, 2009; $10,000 between December 17, 2009 and January 10, 2010; and $21,000 on January 25, 2010.

Tannock denied stealing $5,000 from the couple between July 29 and August 7, 2009.

She also denied stealing $1,000 from Mrs Place on September 9, 2009; $2,000 on November 25, 2009; $4,000 on November 25, 2009; and $9,500 between September 28 and December 18, 2009.

Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves instructed a jury to find Tannock guilty on her pleas and not guilty on the others.

The court heard Mr and Mrs Place worked hard over the years and had a large amount wealth as a result. They were the owners of Place’s Place until Mr Place died in his early 90s in 2009.

Crown counsel Garrett Byrne told the court the couple met Tannock in 2005 when she worked at HSBC. She was their client relations manager until she left HSBC to start her own company, Alpha Consultancy Limited Bermuda.

She convinced the Places to become her personal clients.

Mr Byrne said: “Barbara Tannock had complete control over their finances.

“Access to their bank accounts and debit cards.

“Such was the trust that they placed in Barbara Tannock, they would sign documents without even reading them.

“She was made protector of their trust (Westmore Trust).”

By this point, Mr Byrne said Tannock’s own financial situation began to falter and she was having difficulties keeping up with two mortgages.

The court heard she drafted a letter to the Westmore Trust asking for $100,000 to top up the Places’ bank account. Mrs Place signed the document but has no recollection of signing it.

One of the trustees, Theresa Simons, asked Tannock what the money was for and she said money was needed to buy Mr Place a hospital bed as he was very ill.

Mr Byrne said: “The trust issued a check for $100,000 made payable to Albertine Place.

“Barbara Tannock rented a bed from the Bermuda Red Cross for $20 a week.

“She opened a new account at Capital G in her name and Albertine Place.”

Tannock deposited the money into the account and made a number of withdrawals.

She used $12,500 to pay her son’s school fees at Warwick Academy, which were in arrears.

The defendant transferred $20,000 into her own personal account and then transferred $18,000 of that money into the Bay Tide Trust, the name of her home.

Another $10,000 was put into her account to pay mortgages on both of her properties.

And finally, $21,000 was transferred to her own personal account with $3,700 being put in the Alpha Consultancy Limited Bermuda account.

Mr Byrne told the court Mrs Place did not give Tannock permission to move any of the money.

A social inquiry report was ordered and Tannock was given bail. She must report to the Hamilton Police Station Mondays and Fridays at 9am.

Mr Greaves told her she shouldn’t assume she wouldn’t be jailed because she was given bail.

The matter will be mentioned at the June arraignment session.

In a police press release this afternoon, Detective Inspector Ian Tomkins of the Financial Crime Unit said: “Cases of this nature are always difficult to investigate and prosecute, as they almost inevitably involve the misuse of trust given by the victim. The guilty pleas prevented the need for the elderly victim to give evidence.”

In the same release, Chief Inspector Sean Field-Lament of the Financial Crime Unit acknowledged the dedicated work involved in securing the conviction of Barbara Tannock: “Detective Constable Paul Fenwick did an excellent job investigating this crime and presented a solid prosecution case which resulted in the guilty pleas.

“This case highlights the need for everyone, especially the elderly, to be extra vigilant when handling their savings and to take appropriate advice if they are requested to add signatories to their personal accounts.”