A Nova Scotia woman has been convicted of fraud for emptying the bank account of a recovering alcoholic as he was in hospital undergoing detoxification and rehabilitation.
According to a decision released Monday by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, the man met Diane Kennedy while he was in the midst of an alcoholic binge and she was panhandling on Spring Garden Road in downtown Halifax.
The man's identity is protected by a publication ban because Kennedy's lawyer accused him of trying to buy oral sex from Kennedy during an earlier encounter.
The man, identified in the court decision by the initials B.P., denied that encounter took place.
At the time of the fraud, B.P. was living at the Lord Nelson Hotel in Halifax and drinking heavily.
Court was told he only stopped drinking to go for short walks up Spring Garden Road to buy more alcohol.
Bank security expert testified
It was during one of those walks that he encountered Kennedy. He testified that he believed she asked him for money, but his recollection was clouded by his intoxication.
B.P. testified that he believed he encountered Kennedy a couple more times, and on one occasion, she accompanied him into a bank where he withdrew money from an ATM.
Evidence at the trial included testimony from a bank security expert who provided videos from ATMs. One video showed B.P. and Kennedy, with her standing close enough to him that she could see the screen of the ATM.
During one of his walks, the man discovered the liquor store was closed, so he called a taxi to take him to a grocery store to purchase alcohol-based mouthwash that he hoped would tide him over until the liquor store reopened.
B.P. said he felt too intoxicated to buy the mouthwash himself, so he asked Kennedy to do it for him. When they arrived back at the Lord Nelson, B.P. testified that Kennedy handed him his wallet, saying, "You dropped your wallet. You're going to need this."
The man said he drank the mouthwash, then fell asleep. When he woke up, he felt like he was about to have a seizure, so he called an ambulance and was admitted to hospital.
$29K withdrawn from bank
During the period from Nov. 8 to 17, 2018, while he was recovering in hospital, there were withdrawals and cash advances from B.P.'s bank accounts totalling more than $29,000.
In an agreed statement of facts, Kennedy admitted to being responsible for some of the transactions, but claimed B.P. had given her permission, a claim he disputed. The judge found Kennedy's claim was not credible.
The bank reimbursed B.P. for all but $654 of the money he lost. The withdrawals only stopped when the bank cancelled his card, which has never been recovered.
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