...Three Women, One Lawyer
Three women figured prominently in Tom Jowett's life from mid 1997 until February 1999. Saraid Stafford was the one who looked on Tom as a client, but was also sensitive enough to understand that he needed a little tender loving care. That she was genuinely interested in his welfare is not questioned here, but the old man saw himself as doting father and this at times worried her. On one occasion Tom actually tried to kiss her and this not only threw Saraid but pulled Tom up abruptly. That the passion of the moment went to his head is undeniable and although Saraid kept her distance for a while, she and Tom resumed a normal friendship after a couple of weeks. To his credit he apologised to the young lady for being so stupid and after Tom had explained the fantasy that he had attempted to her he related the pain of losing daughter he had never really known. Saraid forgave him and told Tom a little of her young days in Ireland. It was here that the real bond between the two germinated into a touching friendship.
Saraid was a young lady, shy, but also wont to play her cards close to her chest. What took place between Tom and her, she wanted to keep there. She would take him for a drive, more often it was the other way around though. They would have a coffee at the shopping centre, she would take him to the bank and then do work around his home. Her time with him was never more than two, to two and a half hours two or sometimes three days a week. The trips to the bank never raised suspicion and the bank manager never queried the pattern that was manifesting itself. Tom was in sole control of his finances and remained so until November 7th 1999, when he appealed to Bruce Whiteside to 'look after his affairs. ' Why aren't I being told', he screamed at Bruce. 'There are things going on behind my back and I am not being told'.
This was a swinging comment said in anger, but the tragedy was that he was right, but he had no idea of what was happening.
Tom Jowett had two bank accounts with the old Colonial State Bank. One in Burleigh Heads 565 108931-81 that had a balance as at November 1999 of $14,210.45. This was then voluntarily frozen until June May, when that bank passed into the Commonwealth hands. This account was opened on 23 May 1996, six weeks after Mrs Jowett passed away. The original deposit was $900 and a fortnight later $6000, drawn from the Tweed account. A little over a month later $16,000 was credited to the new account. A term deposit that matured in September built the savings up to a healthy $37,879.32, on the 16 of September. The balance hovered around that figure, falling less than $900 in 12 months. In the following eleven months the balance was reduce to $16,643.51. From these figures alone it is evident that $20,000 disappeared over twelve months. If that was bad enough what these figures don't reveal is that as well as withdrawals there were deposits by way of transfers a further $15,500. A staggering $35,500 had vanished into a hole, or had it?
The following are details of cash amounts that went out and simply vanished. It is details such as these that Whiteside's solicitor Warwick Chesters of the now defunct firm McDonald, Chesters, discarded as being irrelevant to the Court case. Whiteside suspects that this was the result of a 'legal talk with the Andrew Smyth'. Was there collusion? Was it a case of legal buddies playing the straight bat to the client and at the same time clearing the way for a killing?
There are five days here that stand out like a beacon; they are:
20 August 1997 ...............................$2,500
28 August 1997.................................$5,000
07 April 1998 ...................................$6,000
07 April 1998 ..................................$1,000
08 May 1998....................................$6,000
14 July 1998....................................$5,000
What is disturbing about this, is that Tom was usually cagey about money and whist he did from time to time, carry up to a thousand dollars at a time in his wallet, there was no evidence of large amount being withdrawn in the time that Susan Marshall was acting as book-keeper and none in the time that Bruce Whiteside was handling all his finances. The aberration occurred in that period between. So where did the money go. The truth of the matter is that no one knew for sure, although Saraid Stafford claimed that a five figure amount had been given to Sylvia Janacek. Did she receive money? If so it defies belief that she pocketed over $30,000. Two people took Tom to the bank and they were Saraid and Giselle. If there were others then Whiteside was not made aware of it. In keeping a diary, Saraid kept a record of the days she spent with Tom. When the dates of the cheques are reconciled against the diary there is one glaring fact; it was Saraid who took him to the bank. It is possible that Tom who was smitten by Saraid, drew cash cheques and handed over cash. For what reason if that was the case did he do this for it certainly was not Tom Jowett who filled out the amounts and dated the cheques. He only signed the cheque.
It is no coincidence during this period that there was almost frenzied communication with the legal offices of Robbins Watson. Whiteside own wife had her benefit increased to $6,000 and then reduced to half. This was phased out 15 March 1998. Similarly treated were Susan Bertram and Sue Marshall. The interesting facet of this part of the Will, was that each woman knew nothing of any of this as was the norm. They, particularly Iris Whiteside and Sue Marshall, were regular pillars that Tom fell back on. Marshall had the benefit of having been a long-time friend of the family and Sheila, whilst Iris, was at close call and always willing to help Tom in genuine cases. At the same time she did not brook nonsense. Sue Bertram was the local chemist, who only knew Tom as one of the old fellows who had shopped and gathered prescription for years.
Carole Crozier advanced from1% of the estate and incrementally over the same period of three Wills advanced as follows; $5,000, $5,000, $10,000 and finally to $20,000. In the Will that the Supreme Court adjudged legal, Crozier was the biggest of the beneficiaries with her organisation receiving the same. Saraid Stafford, over the same cycle of activity went from $5,000, $4,000, $10,000 and $10,000. The most disturbing element of this period was the injection of eight charities that was a perpetual concern to Andrew Smyth.
It was this aspect that provided the outburst from Tom Jowett about 'Not knowing what the hell was going on' . There is plenty to suggest that Tom was being manipulated by Crozier, Janacek and with reservations Stafford.
There is also enough evidence to nail the suspicion that Bruce Whiteside's initial compassionate help, became increasingly uncomfortable to both Sylvia Janacek and Carole Crozier.
So who allowed this open season on this Battle of Britain fighter pilot who was at the vanguard of the German assault, long before these grouters were born? The answer is encapsulated in a letter that Robbins Watson, through Andrew Smyth wrote to the Queensland Law Society, in response to allegations from Bruce Whiteside that Smyth's conduct was unprofessional. In a convoluted three full page letter Smyth claimed this:
The writer was moved to undertake this investigation because of his knowledge that Mr Jowett was not personally in a position to take steps for the preservation of his own property, the complainant was overseas and not able to be of assistance and the writer was seeking to assist one of his long standing clients.
The concern for property was not a need for investigation when the Blue Nurse was busy increasing her allocation from his client. Nor was he concerned when other unsavoury operatives were mopping up excess cash. The rhetoric that closes Smyth letter was simply cosmetic and did not reflect an element of truth . Wasn't Smyth's interest in Jowett was purely mercenary, billing and exploiting?
The story so far has been the overture to the main play, where avarice, cunning, opportunism and out and out lying were the ingredients of professional graft , rubber-stamped by the highest Law Officer in the Queensland Judiciary.
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