A woman who enlisted a former police sergeant to help sort through her late brother’s estate told of her “devastation” after he stole furniture, a designer watch and cash from the dead man’s home.
Graeme “Taff” Williams, 66, is facing jail for plundering thousands of pounds from the estates of the deceased in east London while working as a ‘sudden death co-ordinator’.
He was found guilty of three counts of theft at Snaresbrook crown court on Tuesday.
Williams, a Met officer for 26 years, helped to catalogue belongings and find relatives of those who had died. He continued as a volunteer after retiring in 2013, as bosses “trusted him implicitly” to look after estates until an heir was found.
He was called a “living legend” in a performance report, prosecutor Alexandra Felix said. But Williams, who was based at Stoke Newington, stole more than £11,500 in cash from two homes.
He also took John Lewis furniture, a 6in flat-screen TV, white goods, a new sound system and an £800 watch from the Hackney home of James Considine, after the pensioner died in April 2015.
Williams told Mr Considine’s sister Nora that he was donating the items to the homeless.
Ms Considine said she was heartbroken when her brother died and was worried about how to empty his flat, which was “packed” with expensive furniture. The coroner recommended Williams to help.
Ms Considine told the court: “I had eight brothers and he was the only one left. He liked the best of everything… He used to buy very expensive stuff. I bit his [Williams’s] hand off when he said he knew a homeless charity who would take it all.”
She said Williams, who “was a bit strange”, asked her to sign for her brother’s watch, keys and wallet.
“My brother always had a wad of money in his wallet but there was not a penny,” she added.
“I put the watch on the table and I never saw it again. I got a bit suspicious [of Williams] but my head was not mine. I was devastated. He was breathing in my ear and he kept repeating not to touch anything.”
Williams told her it would cost £600 to clear the flat and the money would be recovered from her brother’s estate. The furniture would go to the charity Homes for the Homeless, he said.
However, several weeks later Ms Considine got a call from the housing association who told her she owed £1,000 in rent.
She discovered all of the expensive items had been taken away and the flat vandalised, with sofas and carpets slashed and the bed overturned. The charity told her none of her brother’s possessions had ever been donated.
Jurors heard that in July 2012 officers collected £40,835 in cash from the house of an elderly man who had to be moved to a care home. Records show Williams signed out the money from the Superintendent’s safe to “bank it” and later told Hackney council only £35,835 had been recovered.
In January 2015 officers found the body of David Johnson in his flat in Upper Clapton Road and £46,315 in cash under his bed. Williams, then a Met volunteer, was put in charge of the money, but the cash was £6,520 short when handed over to the family.
Williams’s home was raided in July 2015. Officers found a box with about £5,000 in it and a safe containing £20,000, gold jewellery and watches.
After the trial, Ms Considine said she was “relieved” Williams “cannot do this to anyone else”, adding: “Having someone we trusted do this makes it worse.”
The former sergeant, of Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, is due to be sentenced on January 7.