The trial of Lorraine Smith, 46 and sister Audra-Ann Bean, 44, started this morning. *File photos by Kageaki Smith
The trial of Lorraine Smith, 46 and sister Audra-Ann Bean, 44, started this morning. *File photos by Kageaki Smith

MONDAY, APRIL 16: Two sisters allegedly emptied half-a-million dollars from their grandmother’s bank accounts, a Supreme Court jury heard today.

Lorraine Smith, 46 and Audra-Ann Bean, 44, allegedly financially exploited their grandmother, Lenice Tucker and stole more than $500,000 from her between July 15, 2010 and January 13, 2011.

Opening the case for the jury, Crown counsel Garrett Byrne said: “ As we all grow older in life, we will have the expectation that we will be cared for by our children and grandchildren.

“That’s what we would hope for.

“Unfortunately, that’s not what happened in the case.

‘This is a case about an 88-year-old lady and her granddaughters, the defendants.

“The prosecution’s case against each defendant is that between the six month period of July 2010 and January 2011, these defendants financially exploited their grandmother by stealing money from her bank accounts.

‘They did that by gaining access and systematically emptying those bank accounts by virtually all of the money and spending all of that money for their own purposes.”

He continued: “Firstly, they have abused a senior person and secondly, there are several occasions of stealing a credit balance from Lenice Tucker’s bank account.

‘This caused her bank account to be depleted.”

Mr Byrne told the jury Ms Tucker’s sister Lesseline added her to her four bank accounts at HSBC and one at Butterfield Bank before she died on July 15, 2010.

There was $420,000 in the HSBC Bank of Bermuda accounts and $120,00 in the Butterfield account.

The court heard the money was given to Ms Tucker by Lesseline to be able to use it.

Mr Byrne continued: “But what she didn’t know was they would descend upon Lenice Tucker within a week of Lesseline’s death without allowing her a reasonable period to grieve and take advantage upon her and strip her of all the money in those bank accounts.”

Mr Byrne told the court the sisters took Ms Tucker to HSBC Bank of Bermuda on July 20 and to Butterfield Bank on July 21.

“It was on these dates that the defendants gained access to the bank accounts.

‘The only way they could gain access was to add themselves as account holders.”

Ms Smith and Ms Bean allegedly told Ms Tucker they were taking her to the banks to obtain debit cards for her accounts so that she could withdraw money from an ATM.

“What they didn’t tell her was that the true purpose of those visits was that they were added to those accounts,” Mr Byrne said.

“It’s quite clear that Lenice Tucker didn’t fully understand why she was there and didn’t fully understand what she was signing.

“She thought she was simply signing a form to get a debit card.”

Mr Byrne told the jury Ms Tucker would be testifying in the trial and might take time to give evidence, as she might not understand.

“But when she does understand, she is very clear that she didn’t think she was signing something to add her granddaughters to the accounts, nor would she have done that if it had been explained properly to her.”

The court heard when the sisters added themselves to the account, they did it so that either of them could withdraw or deposit money without permission of the other account holder.

On July 20 at HSBC, the sisters allegedly took money from all four of Ms Tucker’s accounts and put it into one joint account in all of their names.

Mr Byrne said Ms Bean and Ms Smith were asked if they would be withdrawing or depositing money and they said ‘no’, making it appear they were protecting their grandmother’s assets.

The prosecutor said the sisters then “started to run amok”.

Ms Smith allegedly withdrew $20,000 to pay off her children’s school fees at Bermuda Institute on August 20.

She also took out $8,000 at the end of the month as a loan for a friend.

The court heard Ms Bean took out $7,000 and deposited it into her own account.

Mr Byrne continued: “In October, the defendants opened a new account at HSBC in their own names and then transferred what was left from Lenice Tucker’s $354,000 into their joint account for their own use.

‘They left Lenice Tucker with $100 from the original figure of $420,000.”

The money was allegedly used to pay credit card bills, rent and deposited into their own accounts.

The jury heard the sisters also cleaned out the Butterfield account, leaving $100.

“Lenice Tucker went from a position in June 2010 to having $550,000 to having just $200.

“Our case is that these two defendants financially exploited Lenice Tucker and stole from her.”

Mr Byrne said at no time did the sisters ask their grandmother for permission to take out any money and they didn’t tell any other family members.

The trial continues.