'mean spirited' | 

Woman whose ex partner stole life savings as she cared for dying mum could have home repossessed

“I was frantic with worry and devoted myself totally to caring for my mother. At the same time, he was plundering my life savings”

Tony Fleming took his victim’s life savings and went on dancing trips

Victim of Anthony (Tony) Fleming. Speaking with the Sunday World's Patrick O’Connell.

Fleming’s victim even asked him to help her hide her cash

Tony Fleming convinced his former partner to withdraw her life savings, telling her the banks were about to crash

Patrick O'ConnellSunday World

The victim of a ‘mean spirited’ sneak thief, who stole her life savings as she cared for her terminally ill mum, is now at risk of having her home repossessed.

Callous Tony Fleming admitted stealing €10,000 from his devastated former partner - taking the cash from a biscuit tin in their home after he urged her to withdraw it from the bank citing fears of a financial crash.

Limerick native Fleming (61) denied taking a further €22,000 from the woman that disappeared from the house during the same period– and was not charged in relation to that sum.

Fleming’s victim even asked him to help her hide her cash

The thefts by the window-fitter have left his victim fighting to save her home from repossession as she fell behind on her repayments to the tune of €40,000 - in the wake of her mum’s death and the theft being discovered.

“I never ever thought he’d do something like that,” his shattered victim told the Sunday World.

“It just never occurred to me he could be so sneaky and manipulative.

“All the while my mother was ill, he was taking my money, €100 and €200 at a time, to go on dancing trips up the country.

“I was frantic with worry and devoted myself totally to caring for my mother.

“And at the same time, he was plundering my life savings.”

Worse still, said the woman, is the fact that heartless Tony wasn’t a recent arrival into her life.

They had begun seeing each other more than 10 years before he sneakily impoverished her.

“We (Tony and I) bought this house together in 2005,” she said.

“I had known him since 2001 … he was my partner.

“By 2010, he wasn’t, in any real sense, my partner anymore even though we were still living in the same house.

“By that stage, caring for my mother had become a full-time job.

“I took carer’s leave because I couldn’t focus on anything other than looking after her.

“My mother was my world.”

Victim of Anthony (Tony) Fleming. Speaking with the Sunday World's Patrick O’Connell.

The woman said in her years of working in the public service she had always put a portion of her income aside leaving her with savings of €32,000.

“It was more his idea than mine to take the money out of the bank,” the woman recalled.

“We were watching the telly and another story came on about financial crisis in Greece.

“He said he’d been talking to someone who’d said that anyone with money in the bank should take it out because the banks were going to fail.

“So, automatically, when he said that, I wanted to get the money out.

“And I did take it out but only because I had no idea he was like that.

“I knew he had changed … but I never thought he’d do that.”

Such was her trust in Fleming’s good character, despite the breakdown in their relationship, the woman said she even asked him for help in concealing it.

“I was worried that someone might break in,” she recalled.

“So, he said we’d hide it in the attic.

“And, when I said I was worried that someone might find it there, he said we’d put some of it under the stairs.

“And I went along with it all … I feel like such a fool.”

Tony Fleming convinced his former partner to withdraw her life savings, telling her the banks were about to crash

After her mother’s death in 2014, the woman said she was diagnosed with severe depression.

“I had to get help from the mental health services,” she recalled

“All along, I had been coping, coping, coping but when my mother died, I just fell apart.

“During that time, he (Fleming) was not interested in me anymore.

“He was off doing his own thing … always off somewhere.

“He wasn’t interested in paying bills and he was contributing nothing in the house.”

By April 2016, the woman said it got to a point where the social welfare payments coming into her account were no longer enough to pay her bills.

“One evening, I confronted him about the bills,” the woman said.

“I told him he’d have to go because he wasn’t putting anything towards the bills.

“But he said it was me who should go because his name was on the mortgage too.

“It wasn’t going nowhere.

“So, I said: ‘Fine I’ll have to go up now and dip into my money … into my savings.’

“And that’s when he told me: ‘It’s gone … It’s all gone. I used it! I spent it.’

“And then it dawned on me!

“That’s how he paid for his hotels when he was going up the country on his social dancing trips.

“He’d be gone for days and he used my money to pay for it.”

Two days later, the woman went to Mayorstone Garda station and reported the theft of her life savings.

Fleming initially denied the thefts before, during one period of questioning, catching himself up in one of his denials by telling gardai: “I didn’t take €32,000. She will get her €10,000 back when I get sorted.”

The admission that he had taken €10,000 of the money was enough to convince the DPP to bring charges.

More than six years later, and as Fleming now awaits sentencing for his crime, the woman said the theft has left her on the brink of losing her home.

“The house is in arrears,” the woman said this week.

“Ulster Bank want to take the house.

“They want me out … they want me to surrender even thought I’ve told them what happened.

“I’m fighting it because I want to keep the house over me and my dog’s head.

“That’s all I want … just to be left in peace.”

Assessing the severity of Fleming’s offence at Limerick Circuit Court, Judge Tom O’Donnell said it was “as mean spirited as I have come across for a long time” 08:39

Prosecuting barrister, John O'Sullivan said the woman had told him Fleming had never shown any remorse.

Mr O’Sullivan said the victim would say she was “manipulated” and that Fleming had told her, “No court will believe you. No judge will take it seriously.”

She maintains it was in excess of €30,000, her life savings, that was taken, he told the court.

“It was a gross breach of trust. Her mental state was undermined. She was at a financial loss and it was extremely traumatic,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

Pat Whyms BL, who represented Fleming, said his client had no previous convictions and has been charged with the theft of €10,000.

In mitigation, Mr Whyms said his client is on disability due to having COPD and diabetes and has had stents inserted.

“He is ashamed of what he did,” he said.

The barrister said his client has engaged with a solicitor through the legal aid board to transfer his share in the house to the victim.

“The financial benefit will be far greater than €10,000, which is the subject of the court, or even the €30,000 referred to.

The transfer is an acknowledgement of his guilt and wrongdoing,” said Mr Whyms.

Judge O’Donnell adjourned matters to October to have a letter in respect of the transfer of the house.

“I will factor that in. If not I will factor that in. There is a history I find appalling. I will stay my hand. I will keep all my options open,” said Judge O’Donnell.

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