A therapist has told a court of his “frightening” relationship with his sister who is privately prosecuting him for allegedly stealing from their wealthy mother.
Jonathan Feld, 62, was alleged to have taken more than £1.5 million of 89-year-old Hannah Feld’s life savings after she became too ill to look after her financial affairs.
He denied two charges of theft from his mother, who was said to be suffering from “significant cognitive decline”, in a private prosecution brought by his sister, Louise Radley.
Feld was on Monday cleared of stealing £1.3 million from a joint Swiss bank account in his and Mrs Feld’s names between May 2015 and November 2017.
Judge Gregory Perrins directed the Southwark Crown Court jury to return a not guilty verdict after telling them: “As a matter of law it is not legally theft to effectively steal from yourself.”
Feld denies a further charge of theft relating to almost £270,000 allegedly stolen from his mother’s Israeli Bank Leumi account by withdrawing cash from ATMs, using her credit cards for shopping sprees and making bank transfers between October 2014 and September 2017.
Giving evidence on Monday, he told how he was banned from his sister’s home in around 2006 and said their relationship had since “got worse”.
Asked to describe their relationship, Feld, from Kilburn, north-west London said: “Fraught. Frightening. Non-existent.”
He said he still has an “excellent” relationship with his mother, who he visits up to eight times a year in Tel Aviv, Israel, where she retired with her late husband Monty, who died in 2010.
Feld, who worked for the family clock and watch firm before becoming a therapist, said his parents were “extremely generous” to him and his sister, helping to buy properties and pay for his Paris wedding to now ex-wife Lady.
He told the jury his mother, who had supported him through his drug addiction in his 20s, was not a “miser” and “spent her money freely”.
She liked to have “at least £500 in cash” and often gave money and presents to his son and the daughter of his current partner, Feld, who has lived in Japan and France, said.
Prosecutor Adam Gersch previously suggested to jurors that it was unlikely Mrs Feld had been responsible for a “magical mystery tour” of spending during a trip to London in April and July 2017, with transactions “totally out of keeping with the expenditure of a lady in her advanced years”.
But Feld denied ever having withdrawn cash from his mother’s account, made bank transfers, or having used her credit cards without her permission.
“My mother liked to wear fashionable clothes, she liked to wear skinny jeans and she liked to wear jackets and she would shop everywhere,” he said.
“(She would buy) presents for other people, flowers, chocolates, jewellery, jewellery for herself very rarely,” he continued. “She would buy perfumes and skin creams of a specific make and brand she liked.”
The trial continues.