An evil care home owner who wormed his way into the lives of his elderly residents to steal millions has had his 21-year-jail term slashed on appeal.
David Barton senior, now 66, was jailed for 21 years in November 2018 for an enormous fraud , which saw him cheat six elderly residents out of more than £4m.
The crook befriended then betrayed wealthy pensioners at luxurious Barton Park Nursing Home in Oxford Road, Southport.
Barton snr was found guilty of five fraud offences, three counts of theft, false accounting and transferring criminal property after the longest trial in the history of Liverpool Crown Court – lasting more than a year.
But lawyers for Barton convinced a bench including the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett, that his sentence was "manifestly excessive" at a hearing of the Court of Appeal.
Lord Burnett concluded: "This was an exceptional case involving a high level of exploitative criminality that was targeted at vulnerable elderly individuals, and it undoubtedly merited a long overall sentence of imprisonment.
"The question for us is whether the total term is manifestly excessive.
"In respectful disagreement with the experienced judge who presided over the trial, we have concluded that a total sentence of 21 years is manifestly excessive for a man of 64 years of good character when taking into account the features we have identified.
"In our view, in all the circumstances, the total term was significantly too long."
The sentence was cut to 17 years, meaning Barton would likely be freed automatically on licence by early 2027, the half way point of his sentence.
Lord Burnett said that trial judge, Steven Everett, had not taken enough account of the fact that Barton's car home was run to "an "exceptionally high standard and no resident suffered any physical harm or discomfort."
The judges threw out an attempt to over-turn the conviction from Barton, and also dismissed an appeal from Rosemary Booth, the general manager at the home.
Booth, 69, of Hesketh Drive, Southport, had been convicted of two counts of conspiracy to defraud and was jailed for six years.
During the epic trial, which ran from May 8, 2017 and ended one year and three days later, it emerged Barton:
- Groomed residents, became their next of kin, obtained power of attorney and became an executor and beneficiary of their wills
- Liquidated his victims' assets so they could be cashed into their bank accounts, then callously drained these of money
- Sold two elderly women his Rolls Royce cars, each worth between £100,000 and £150,000, for a "grossly inflated" £500,000 per car
- Took them out once a week in the cars he kept in his garage, then when they died, stole one of the vehicles back via inheritance
- Tried to claim £10m from the estate of a resident when she died, after she and her husband paid £1m for just two years of care
At the sentencing hearing Judge Everett noted that conman Barton cut them off from friends, families and trusted advisers, using a combination of flattery, persuasion and veiled threats.
Judge Everett said: "You are a despicably greedy man, a hypocrite who claims you were caring for the residents.
"I’m quite sure the person you care for most is no one but yourself – not even your family.
"With an insatiable appetite for fancy cars and building your property empire, you would trample over anyone who opposed you."
Benjamin Myers, QC, prosecuting, told the trial Barton snr lavished attention on his victims and deliberately isolated them from friends and family.
He said the crook had a snake-like ability "to worm his way into the hearts and finances of wealthy residents and to pray upon their frailties and vulnerabilities".
Mr Myers told the jury: "They became dependent upon him – he groomed them so that they trusted him and relied upon him entirely.
"He led them to believe that he was the only person who cared for them. They believed he was their saviour.
"They would make him their friend, their next of kin, the beneficiary under their wills.
"He would take their money from them whilst they were alive and he would try to take whatever he could from their estates once they were dead."
Barton snr was originally called Ramamurthie Dasaratha Naidoo and moved to the UK from South Africa with his family in the 1960s.
His crimes began to come to light when a wealthy resident called Katie Willey died, and Barton brought an audacious civil claim against the pensioner's multi-million pound estate.
He previously tried to strike a deal with the 77-year-old, whereby she would transfer all her money to him, in return for she and her husband Gordon, 82, receiving lifelong care.
The Willeys lived at Barton Park for just two years and had already paid a staggering £1m, yet Barton snr claimed they owed him £10m for care and services.
Mr Myers said: "This was breath-taking dishonesty."
Barton snr also whispered in Mrs Willey's ear that her financial advisor, Nicholas Farmer, had funded buying a house by taking money from her.
But that false allegation was nothing compared to the despicable lie he told about her gardener, who raised concerns about her care.
Barton – formerly named Ramamurthie Dasaratha Naidoo – approached him and threatened to spread rumours he was "messing with children".
Judge Everett said this was "completely false", yet Barton snr repeated it to Mrs Willey, who believed him and sacked the gardener.
The judge added it was clear this man was "devastated" by the lie when he gave evidence during the long-running trial.
He said: "For anybody to be faced with false sexual allegations must be devastating. You trampled over him, just like anybody else, to get what you wanted."