Gambling addict murdered 97-year-old in her Fife home in a row over missing money
A doctor’s son who murdered one of his late father's elderly patients after stealing from her to feed his gambling addiction is facing life in jail.
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Callous Sandeep Patel suffocated 97-year-old Annie Temple at her home in Kinglassie, Fife on October 25 2019.
The chronic gambler had earlier preyed on frail Annie for her money.
He had cashed cheques in her name behind her back - and chatted to a friend how the OAP had up to £300,000 savings.
Scheming Patel, 38, killed the widow just days after a bid to get his hands on even more money had been spotted by Annie's bank.
Patel was convicted of murder following a protracted trial at the High Court in Glasgow and multiple attempts by him to avoid the start of proceedings.
The medical researcher will learn the minimum he will spend behind bars next month.
Ex- insurance worker Annie - known as Nan - lived alone at her neat bungalow in the village’s West End.
She was known to have only a couple of regular visitors, which included Patel's mother but regularly chatted to locals and passers-by.
Jurors heard the pensioner was found was dead in her bed by a police officer on the day she was to make a statement about Patel’s thefts.
Firefighters had to break into the property after the officer spotted Annie lying on the bed.
Police initially did not treat the death as suspicious but there was a uniformed presence outside Annie’s home for a month while exhaustive post mortem examinations were conducted.
Patel – who was identified early as a suspect after it was announced Annie’s death was murder – was quizzed by a constable and lied he had not seen her the day she died.
He said Annie had been a patient of his father's and that he had known her "ever since I can recall".
Patel claimed he carried out odd jobs for the OAP including bringing bananas to her.
Annie's friend Wendy Bradbury told a jury that she also spoke with Patel and he appeared "perfectly normal" when discussing the pensioner's death.
But, prosecutors said Annie had been killed with blunt force trauma inflicted on her head and body.
She was also said to have had her airways "obstructed and constricted" by means unknown.
Patel, who lived with his mother in nearby Cardenden, was charged with murder on November 15 2019.
Annie's friend Wendy also told officers that the OAP "did not trust" Patel.
The witness said: "She had money gone missing from her sideboard.
"She believed the money had been taken by Mr Patel."
The murder and fraud probe revealed Patel was a self confessed 'problem gambler'.
He had bet more than £109,000 between 2016 and 2020 winning just around a quarter of that back.
In desperate need for cash, he used Annie while claiming to be a helpful friend.
Patel cashed a number of cheques - totalling £1,500 - in Annie's name the week prior to her death.
He had then tried to pocket a further £1,250 two days before the murder - but suspicious staff at Annie's bank blocked the payment.
Annie was spoken to and admitted she did not even know she had a cheque book.
It also emerged in June 2019, Patel had gone with Annie to her bank hoping to transfer more than £4,000 for a supposed car purchase.
Staff again did not allow the transaction to go through.
Patel once got a £5 cheque as an overpayment from a car company - he then tried to cash it for £500 by illegally adding two zeroes.
Police examined a number of Patel's electronic devices including messages on them.
In one WhatsApp text in January 2019, Patel stated to a friend: "Mrs T got 2-300k in bank".
He also discussed the house being worth "100k".
Other messages in the month of the murder revealed Patel being warned about arrears in loan payments.
CCTV evidence also pinned Patel being near to Annie's home on the morning of the killing.
Judge Michael O'Grady QC remanded Patel in custody as sentencing was deferred for reports.
The trial was hit by several delays mostly sparked by Patel, who appeared in the dock in crutches – believed to be the result of a fall from a window when he was a student in England.
The coward claimed to have fallen at a railway station while on bail and another time told a judge that he had forgotten his medicine. It total, four juries had to be sworn in before the case fully got underway.
Patel also claimed that he may be positive with Covid-19 after complaining of ear ache.
But his time on bail ended when a judge finally ordered him to be held behind bars until he stood trial.
During proceedings, solicitor advocate Iain Paterson withdrew from defending him to be replaced by QC Mark Stewart.
Following the case, Detective Superintendent Andrew Patrick, from Police Scotland’s Major Investigation Team, said: “Sandeep Patel will now have to face the consequences of his actions.
“He preyed on an elderly lady purely for financial gain before taking her life. The lies and deceit he weaved through the local community in Kinglassie shows a complete disregard for all those around him.
“This was a complex investigation and I would like to than Annie's family, friends and those in the wider community who helped officers during this difficult enquiry. Our thoughts today are with all who knew Annie and I hope this conviction brings them some degree of comfort.
"Annie was a popular member of the community and her death caused widespread shock in the local area. I would like to reassure people that incidents such as this are extremely rare and ask that if anyone has any concerns to please speak to police.