News, WW2

Arnhem Vet Robbed by Neighbour

Some crimes may not be violent but they are nonetheless particularly unsavoury. Egregious, even. Stealing from a veteran of the Second World War must rate as one of them.

That’s what happened in 2020 in North Yorkshire, England. A trusting, 102 year old vet who fought in World War 2 made the mistake of believing his neighbour was and honest man.

He soon realized that this individual was in fact robbing him blind, not only stealing cash but also a medal he received for his service during the legendary Battle of Britain.in

Raymond Whitwell, 102, lives in North Yorkshire. He hired Vincent Morgan, 45, to do some yard work and was paying him £10 an hour. Whitwell paid him £20 for two hours of work but clearly Morgan didn’t think that this was enough!

Shortly thereafter, Morgan asked Whitwell to lend him £30, explaining that he was waiting for a cheque to arrive and was short of cash.

The veteran agreed, and gave Morgan his debit card and security code.

And that’s when the trouble really began.

Vincent Morgan

Unbeknownst to the war vet, Morgan took a great deal more than the agreed upon sum. Over the ensuing weeks, he stole thousands of pounds from Whitwell. The theft was not discovered until bank statements arrived showing the withdrawals,  hundreds of pounds each time.   He did this between August and October of 2020, smack dab in the midst of the first covid pandemic lockdown in Britain.

Whitwell, who lives alone and had no one to caution him against giving his debit card and security code to someone who was a virtual stranger, let his trusting nature rule. That was a decision he no doubt came to regret.

Morgan stole more than £4200 from Whitwell during those weeks. And while emptying the pensioner’s bank account was terrible, perhaps worse is that Morgan stole something priceless.

The thief took a medal sent to Whitwell commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Police found it when they raided and searched Morgan’s home. Police initially feared the money was lost forever, as Morgan spent it on booze and gambling as quickly as he stole it.

Raymond during WWII. He fought at both Dunkirk at Arnhem.

It was the entire amount of the veteran’s life savings.

However it was with the help of other neighbours that Morgan’s thievery was discovered. One neighbour, in particularly, told the press that she had never trusted Morgan around Whitwell, and surreptitiously kept an eye on him when he visited the centenarian.

He was vulnerable not only because of his age, she noted. “He had little family to visit and liked the company of others and having someone to talk to.” Obviously, Morgan exploited that, and knew how to take advantage of a senior citizen who was alone and in need of companionship.

It was with her and the help of other neighbours’ that Whitwell contacted police and filed a complaint. Only then was the medal’s disappearance discovered, because officers found it in Morgan’s home. It was still in an official envelope, addressed to Whitwell.

If there is not a special place in Hell for those who steal from World War II veterans, there certainly should be.

In the meantime, prosecutors like Marte Alnaes must see to it people like Morgan are punished, and she did. The thief has been jailed for 15 months, despite his (and his lawyer’s) pleas that he was remorseful and felt overwhelmingly ashamed. The judge didn’t buy it, and called Morgan’s crimes “disgraceful.”

Raymond with his daughter and his medals.

There is an even brighter note to this story. Whitwell’s bank, upon hearing that the war vet had been robbed of his life savings, reimbursed him for the total amount. This was a pleasant surprise, as banks aren’t known for their warmheartedness.

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Nevertheless, Whitwell has his money back, Morgan is in jail, and for once it seems that all’s well that ends well, to paraphrase Shakespeare. An all too rare outcome in a world where the bad guys often win. But not this time, not in North Yorkshire and not to a WW II Vet.