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A British actress was forced to wear the clothes of the dead while living in a care facility after her friend and costume designer stole thousands of dollars from her, a judge has ruled.
Margaret Wright, also known as Meg Wynn Owen, appeared Love Actually, Doctor Who, and Pride & Prejudice. The actress, who died last summer, suffered from dementia in her later years and moved into a care home in Cardiff, Wales, in 2015. The move came months after Brian Malam , 60, has been named as a power of attorney because of her mental state. states, according to Wales Online.
During sentencing proceedings against Malam, who had already pleaded guilty to fraud, prosecutor Abigail Jackson alleged that he stopped visiting Wright and began stealing thousands of pounds from her savings account. Jackson claimed that Malam withdrew money and moved money from Wright’s account to his own while she was acting as her power of attorney, Wales Online reported.
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South Wales Police
In the role as power of attorney, he was allegedly supposed to transfer money from Wright’s bank accounts to the care center so that employees could buy necessities for the actor. Instead, Malam allegedly made only a few payments, leaving Wright without necessities such as clothes and a hairdresser.
Lacking money, Wright’s employees put in clothes belonging to residents who had died, and cut her hair, the court was told, against the outlet.
In October 2014, the team knew something was wrong with Wright’s finances, so they took her to her bank to review her statements. When she was there, it was revealed that Malam was stealing from her, according to the prosecutor.
According to Wales Online, the case was investigated by the Office of the Public Guardian before local police became involved. Authorities found that Malam took £65,000 (more than $78,000) from Wright over four years.
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“Mr. Wright was very upset about it. The matter was then reported to the police in September 2020,” Jackson said during her sentencing, according to The mirror. “That’s how the investigation started with the police and the matter came to light.”
Speaking to police after his arrest, Malam admitted taking money from Wright to buy items for his work. However, he said it was “always meant to pay her back,” per The mirror.
Despite his motive, Judge Paul Hobson told Malam that he was in “an important position of trust that carried a great deal of responsibility. His own account or spending it directly,” according to Leading Britain’s Conversation.
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“As time went on, you carried on with what you were doing knowing full well that the money would not realistically be repaid,” continued Judge Hobson, per LBC .
Hobson told Malam, per the outlet, “A victim had to dress in clothes belonging to deceased residents of her care home because she didn’t have enough money. She was reduced by your actions towards her.”
He was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison, per The mirror. He must serve up to half of that time before completing his sentence through community service.
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Malam’s attorney Andrew Davies said in court proceedings that Malam and Wright had been friends for years and that Malam was the only person who cared for Wright. He revealed that Malam did not spend her money on “luxury cars or holidays” but instead went to fund his clothing design business, Wales Online reported.
He said Malam suffered from alcoholism and “everything was a miasma of drink.”
Davies did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.