20 December 2022

Man accused of stealing from elderly widow he befriended granted bail

| Albert McKnight
Man leaving court

Max Davidson, 65, from Flynn, walks out of Canberra’s court when granted bail on Monday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A man has been granted bail after being accused of stealing up to $130,000 from a widow he befriended when he helped fix her car.

Max Davidson was working for NRMA Roadside Assistance when he was called out to the home of the 80-year-old in 2016, court documents say.

She lived alone as her husband had died years earlier, and while she was independent, she needed physical assistance from time to time.

After their meeting, she began to develop a friendship with Mr Davidson. By 2017, she had appointed him as one of her power of attorneys.

In 2018, he was made her only power of attorney and the sole executor and trustee of her will. However, their friendship ended late that year and she went to police with her allegations.

Mr Davidson, 65, appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday (19 December) where he was handed 12 counts of theft that accuse him of stealing a range of items from the widow, including cash, lottery tickets, tyres, socks and a photo album.

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Magistrate Beth Campbell told the court the allegations could be described as a heartbreaking example of someone taking advantage of an elderly widow, or elder abuse, over several years.

The documents allege in late 2017, the widow gave Mr Davidson her visa card and PIN and told him to use it to buy food and goods for herself, as well as food for him if he needed it.

But the charges accuse Mr Davidson of withdrawing $3250 cash without her approval and depositing some of it into his own account in 2018.

He applied for bail on Monday (19 December), which was opposed by the prosecutor, Elinor Knaggs, who said he had held a carer-type relationship with the widow. She was concerned his alleged conduct had been a sustained abuse of power.

Ms Knaggs noted he had apparently bought about $61,000 worth of Lotto tickets over 2018 and said police expected to lay more charges.

Legal Aid’s Ketinia McGowan, appearing for Mr Davidson, said he had recently stopped working with NRMA due to health issues and was trying to secure a disability payment from Centrelink.

Magistrate Campbell said the now-85-year-old widow was still alive, although frail and unwell.

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She noted the delay in the case, saying if the alleged offending had occurred recently then she would be refusing bail, but the allegations had been made four years ago and there was no suggestion of contact between the pair since then.

The magistrate granted bail on conditions that include Mr Davidson continue to live in Flynn, report daily to police, not contact the complainant and not be in the suburb she lives in.

The matter was adjourned to 19 January 2023. No pleas were entered.

Previously, ACT Policing alleged about $130,000 was stolen from the widow over several years.

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