A FECKLESS son whose elderly mother died penniless after he stole nearly £200,000 from her has been jailed.

Callous Thomas Fitzpatrick, 60, blew mum Sheila's money on business trips and his daughter's private education after he had been made power of attorney.

He also spent a shocking £13,000 on shopping - and nearly caused her to be evicted from her nursing home due to a lack of funds.

Fraudulent Fitzpatrick's actions came to light in August 2017 after his mother discovered that her bank account had been emptied.

She died almost a year later at the age of 84.

Christine Hart, prosecuting, told the court that Sheila had moved into the Ferns in Yeovil, in 2012.

She had sold her house for £425,000 to help pay for her nursing home fees.

She said: "The money that was raised from the sale of Sheila Fitzpatrick's house was supposed to be used for her care.

"By August 2017, it became apparent that her nursing home fees were no longer being paid, and Mrs Fitzpatrick discovered that there were no funds in her account.

"Thomas Fitzpatrick admitted to withdrawing and spending the money but claimed he had his mother's permission.

"It was found that he had spent £15,000 on travel, and £13,000 on shopping.

"The defendant pleaded guilty to taking money, but stated that Sheila Fitzpatrick had given him permission to pay £27,500 for his daughter's school fees.

"As a result of her son's crime, Sheila Fitzpatrick could have been evicted or moved, but thanks to the kindness of the management at the Ferns, she was able to stay there until she went into hospital [in July 2018], where she died."

Defending, Harry Ahuja requested that Fitzpatrick be spared jail, offering his age, lack of criminal record and his role as a single parent to his 17-year-old daughter as mitigating factors.

He said: "My client has accepted the dishonesty and inappropriateness of his actions and I would ask the court to consider this an exceptional case and that this sentence can be suspended.

"At the time, he was having to cope with visiting his mother twice a week while in the knowledge that his sister, who has extreme learning difficulties, had been taken into care when his mother went into a nursing home.

"He was trying to keep his job and manage being a single parent to his daughter, and it was for this reason why he used the funds.

"He accepts that he stupidly and foolishly dipped into them and he deeply regrets his actions.

"I ask that in this exceptional case, that this sentence be suspended and a high number of unpaid hours of work be imposed, or if not, then I ask for the sentence to be as low as possible."

At a sentencing hearing at Taunton Crown Court, judge Paul Cook sentenced Fitzpatrick, of Mill Close in Misterton, to 27 months in prison.

Taking into account Fitzpatrick's guilty plea and previous good character, Judge Cook reduced the sentence from five years but said that the offence was too serious for him to avoid jail time.

Addressing Fitzpatrick, he said: "You were in a position of trust.

"It was made abundantly clear to you when the account was set up that this was your mother's money and it was to be used responsibly.

"This had a high impact on your mother, particularly given her age.

"Due to the nature of the fraud, I have no choice but to make the sentence immediate."

Fitzpatrick remained emotionless in the dock as his sentence was read out.