Love Actually star’s friend sentenced for stealing $116k from her as her health declined
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After a decades-long career in film and television, Owen died in June 2022. She was 82.
Owen had been suffering from dementia, and living in an aged care facility in Cardiff, Wales since 2015.
Costume designer Brian Malam, 60, had been put in charge of her finances as power of attorney in 2014 as her health declined – and it was recently revealed that Malam, who had been Owen’s friend, had pleaded guilty to fraud while occupying a position of trust and sentenced to 32 months by a judge at Cardiff Crown Court.
Malam had stolen £65,000 (approx. $116,400) from Owen’s accounts through a combination of bank transfers to his account, cash withdrawals and direct spending.
When Owen died, she was left with an overdraft of £1750.12 (approx. $3134.18), which the bank later wrote off. In addition to her overdraft, Owen had £229.94 (approx. $411.77) left in one account, and £0.72 (approx. $1.29) as well as £0.21 (approx. $0.38) in two others.
Due to insufficient funds, Owen was forced to be dressed in clothing from dead residents at her aged care facility and had to have her hair cut by facility staff.
In Malam’s sentencing, the court heard how he stole the money over a four-year period, and had previously been friends with Owens for years.
According to prosecutor Abigail Jackson, Malam’s fraud was discovered when Owen’s bank spotted suspicious activity on her account.
”[Owens] became terribly upset about it. The matter was then reported to the police in September 2020,” Jackson said in court, per Wales Online.
“That’s how the investigation with the police started and the matter came to light.”
Malam admitted after his arrest that he did steal thousands from Owen’s account but he “always intended to pay her back” and insisted the funds were only used to buy materials for his job.
”The position was that you were taking money from her bank account in significant funds and either transferring into your own account or spending it directly,” Judge Paul Hodson told Malam during sentencing.
“As time went on you simply continued in what you were doing known full well the money would not be repaid realistically.”
“She was reduced by your actions towards her,” Judge Hodson continued.
Malam will serve half of his sentence in custody and then will be released to serve the remainder of his sentence in the community.