A British actress was forced to wear deceased people’s clothing while livingin a care facility after her friend and costume designer stole thousands ofdollars from her, a judge determined.
Margaret Wright, also known as Meg Wynn Owen, appeared in Love Actually,Doctor Who, and Pride & Prejudice. The actress, who died this past summer,suffered from dementia in her later years and moved into a care home inCardiff, Wales, in 2015. The move came months after Brian Malam, 60, was namedher power of attorney due to her mental state, according to Wales Online.
During the sentence proceedings against Malam, who had already entered aguilty plea for fraud, prosecutor Abigail Jackson alleged he stopped visitingWright and began stealing tens of thousands of pounds from her savingsaccount. Jackson claimed Malam withdrew cash and moved money from Wright’saccount to his own while acting as her power of attorney, Wales Onlinereported.
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South Wales Police
In the role as power of attorney, he was allegedly supposed to transfer moneyfrom Wright’s bank accounts to the care center so employees could buynecessities for the actress. Instead, Malam allegedly only sent a couple ofpayments, leaving Wright without needs such as clothing and a hairdresser.
Because of a lack of funds, employees put Wright in clothes belonging toresidents who had died, and cut her hair, the court was told, per the outlet.
In October 2014, the staff knew something was off with Wright’s finances, sothey took her to her bank to review her statements. Once there, it wasrevealed that Malam had been stealing from her, according to the prosecutor.
According to Wales Online, the Office of the Public Guardian investigated thecase before local police stepped in. Authorities determined Malam took £65,000(more than $78,000) from Wright over four years.
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“Mrs. Wright became terribly upset about it. The matter was then reported tothe police in September 2020,” Jackson said during his sentencing, accordingto The Mirror. “That’s how the investigation with the police started and thematter came to light.”
Speaking with police after his arrest, Malam confessed that it took money fromWright to buy items for his work. However, he said he “always intended to payher back,” per The Mirror.
Despite his reason, Judge Paul Hobson told Malam he was in “an importantposition of trust carrying with it a great deal of responsibility. … Theposition was that you were taking money from her bank account in significantfunds and either transferring into your own account or spending it directly,”according to Leading Britain’s Conversation.
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“As time went on you simply continued in what you were doing knowing full wellthe money would not be repaid realistically,” Judge Hobson continued, per LBC.
Hobson told Malam, per the outlet, “Your victim had to be dressed in clothesthat belonged to deceased residents of her care home due to insufficientfunds. She was reduced by your actions towards her.”
He was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison, per _The Mirror._He’s set to spend up to half of that time before finishing his sentence viacommunity service.
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Malam’s attorney Andrew Davies said in court proceedings that Malam and Wrighthad been friends for years and that Malam was the only one who took care ofWright. He pointed out that Malam didn’t spend her money on “flash cars orluxury holidays” but instead went to fund his costume designing business,Wales Online reported.
He said that Malam suffered from alcoholism and “everything disappeared into amiasma of drink.”
Davies did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.