Anthony Sootheran murder: Woman who starved millionaire to death jailedon June 1, 2021 at 2:51 pm

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Lynda Rickard is jailed for 28 years for killing Anthony Sootheran to steal from his £3.5m estate.

Anthony Sootheran

image copyrightThames Valley Police

A woman who starved her millionaire landlord to death in order to inherit part of his £3.5m estate has been jailed for a minimum of 28 years.

Lynda Rickard, 62, was convicted of murdering 59-year-old Anthony Sootheran who died at his farm near South Newington, Oxfordshire, in 2014.

Rickard’s husband Wayne, 66, who was found guilty of allowing the death, was jailed for 10-and-a-half years.

The judge, Mr Justice Wall, said she had shown “extraordinary greed”.

The Rickards, from Banbury, were Mr Sootheran’s live-in tenants at High Havens Farm.

Lynda Rickard “ruthlessly exploited” the reclusive millionaire and his mother, Joy Sootheran, who died in 2012, Reading Crown Court previously heard.

She took up to £300,000 from their accounts, forged both of their wills and isolated her vulnerable landlord by discouraging visitors, prosecutors said.

Lynda and Wayne Rickard

image copyrightThames Valley Police

Mr Sootheran’s “severely emaciated” body was found in his room in March 2014.

A combination of malnutrition and a deep-seated pressure sore led to a fatal lung infection, the court heard.

The death, initially treated as non-suspicious, was reinvestigated when his bank account was used after he died, the judge was told.

The Rickards later went to court to try to uphold his forged will but failed to inherit any part of the Sootherans’ estates, prosecutors said.

Joy Sootheran

image copyrightTVP

Mr Sootheran’s daughter Hannah told the court she was “heartbroken” over the loss of her father.

In a written victim statement, she said: “My trust in people has deteriorated significantly.

“I cannot comprehend how someone who said she cared deeply for my dad left him to die in such horrible conditions.”

High Havens Farm

image copyrightThames Valley Police

Mary Loram QC, defending Lynda Rickard, said her client felt “profound shame” and had not spent the Sootherans’ money on “high living”.

The defendant previously admitted forging their wills, four counts of fraud over their bank accounts, two counts of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, one of possessing forged documents and one of housing benefit fraud.

She and her husband were convicted by the jury of fraud over the purchase of a Mitsubishi Shogun car.

Denise Neal (L), Shanda Robinson, Michael Dunkley (R)

Passing a life sentence, Mr Justice Wall said Mrs Rickard had “cynically and systematically bled this family of money”.

He told her: “Your greed was such that when you thought Anthony Sootheran might act in a way which would derail your gravy train, you murdered him.”

The judge said Wayne Rickard, who was also found guilty of perverting the course of justice, “hoped to profit” from Mr Sootheran’s death.

He told him: “You were the only person who could have saved Anthony Sootheran but instead… you left him to die the most horrible of deaths.”

Michael Dunkley, 49, from Banbury, and Denise Neal, 41, of Lower Tysoe, Warwickshire, were jailed for 24 months and 27 months respectively after being found guilty of fraudulently signing forged wills.

Shanda Robinson, 51, from Banbury, who was convicted of the same offence and conspiring to pervert the course of justice, was jailed for two years and eight months.

Another of Mrs Rickard’s friends, June Alsford, 78, from Aynho, Northamptonshire, who admitted fraud before the trial, was given a two-year suspended sentence.

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