Investigation finds fault with council and care home over the way disabled man's money was handled

ITV News Central Correspondent Peter Bearne speaks to the horrified family of a severely disabled man after a report found he was left vulnerable to financial abuse

The family of a severely disabled man are demanding answers after a report criticised a city council for failing to keep track of his finances.

Ian Reeves, who lived at Marston Court care home for more than 10 years and died at the age of 54 in 2021, had his care funded by Leicester City Council.

It paid his benefits into a bank account, where the care home then spent the money as it saw fit.

His family told ITV News they were becoming increasingly worried about how his money was being spent.

Mr Reeves' sister Sharon McConnell obtained legal permission to find out more about his finances.

Among the paperwork she uncovered was a Primark receipt - and the items which were bought were women's and children's clothing, including pairs of Marvel and Snoopy pyjamas.

A report by the Local Government Ombudsman found there was no evidence Leicester City Council had ever checked how his money was being spent.

The report also found Mr Reeves was left more vulnerable to financial abuse.

Ian Reeves had severe learning disabilities and lived at Marston Court care home for 10 years, before his death in 2021. Credit: ITV News Central

It highlights one occasion when £280 was withdrawn for Christmas expenses without receipts to show what it was spent on.

Ms McConnell said: "There were things like ladies' clothes. There were handheld receipts, like this one submitted, £280, just saying 'Xmas'.

"No explanation. And we were just horrified that this is what Ian's money was being used for."

The care home says the report didn't find any evidence of financial abuse and that all items purchased for Mr Reeves were in his best interests.

But it admitted that it didn't always have receipts for the spending.

  • Ms McConnell says among the paperwork she uncovered was a Primark receipt, which included women's clothing and pairs of Marvel and Snoopy pyjamas

Mr Reeves' family reported their concerns to the Care Quality Commission and the police.

The CQC decided not to take the matter any further and the police made some initial inquiries, but decided not to proceed with a criminal investigation due to "insufficient evidence" of criminal conduct.

The council watchdog, the Local Government Ombudsman, carried out an investigation and found there was fault in the way both Leicester City Council and Marston Court looked after Mr Reeves money.

It said the care home had admitted not always having receipts for its spending and that the most concerning incident was the £280 used for Christmas expenses.

Mr Reeves' sister said: "We need to be that voice because we feel an injustice has been done here. And there's no accountability.

"We just had time with him, to talk to him, to apologise... to put things right, to say we were sorry for the failings. But I'd promised him that we would fight for justice."

  • Ian Reeves' family say an injustice has been done and that somebody must be held accountable

In 2018, the council made changes to the way it paid Mr Reeves' benefits. 

At this point, the Ombudsman said, the home should have closed a bank account for Mr Reeves containing more than £11,000 and returned the money to the council - but it didn't.

The Ombudsman said that was a fault of the home and the council and showed a lack of oversight by the home and "serious failings" by the latter.

The council was also criticised for losing track of what went in and out of Mr Reeves account.

As a result, his savings built up to £30,000 - which his family had no idea existed.

Ms McConnell said: "What a waste. It could have been used to improve his care.

"It could have been used to have taken him out on day trips. It could have been used to take him on a holiday."

The Ombudsman said there are still outstanding questions for the council to answer, relating to money spent on women's and children's clothes, toys and toiletries.

  • What has Leicester City Council said?

The council apologised to Mr Reeves' family and paid them £500 for the distress caused.

In a statement, Leicester City Council said: "We are sorry that our management of this resident's finances was not up to the standard it should have been, and following our own investigation we have since reviewed and updated our procedures to ensure this does not happen again.

"We accept the Ombudsman's findings. We have already carried out some of the recommendations made and are in the process of completing others."

  • What has Mr Reeves' care home, Marston Court, said?

Marston Court acknowledged there were some discrepancies in its record-keeping and says it has apologised to the family for this.

Marston Court told ITV News Central: "All items purchased for Mr Reeves were in his best interests. The experts involved in Mr Reeves' care agreed the care he received was appropriate.

"It is incorrect to assume that people in Mr Reeves' position should not have access to appropriate clothing in the correct size range and items to facilitate stimulation. Marston Court is monitored and inspected by multiple external professionals, including the CQC, and is proud of its 'Good' rating.

"The home has conducted a full review of the circumstances at the time and has updated its fiscal policy to ensure it is robust."

It accepted there should have been receipts to back up the £280 on Christmas spending.

This money, it said, paid for gifts and items so Mr Reeves could engage in the festivities.

However, it added that the Ombudsman's report did not in any way suggest there had been financial abuse or that money had been spent inappropriately.

Leicester City Council is looking again at the outstanding questions relating to how Mr Reeves' money was spent, an investigation the home says it is engaging with.