Family pays tribute to murdered Banbury area man - Anthony Sootheran

Family members have paid tribute to a Banbury area man who was deprived of food, drink and medical care by his live-in tenant until he died.

Family members have paid tribute to Anthony Sootheran (Image from Thames Valley Police)
Family members have paid tribute to Anthony Sootheran (Image from Thames Valley Police)

A Banbury woman, Lynda Rickard, aged 62, was given a life sentence earlier this week, and told she will serve a minimum of 28 years in jail after being convicted of the murder of her live-in landlord James Anthony Sootheran, known as Anthony at High Havens Farm, South Newington.

The family of Anthony Sootheran, and his mother, Joy Sootheran, have paid tribute to their loved ones.

The tribute released by Thames Valley Police on its Facebook page said: "Joy loved the village of Bloxham, a true lady.

"Before her retirement she was a well-respected matron of Bloxham School, she loved her dogs, her garden and her life. We cannot understand how someone who said they cared deeply for Joy, could steal tens of thousands of pounds from her, when she was suffering with dementia and in such a vulnerable state.

"Anthony was a very intelligent and popular person. He loved the rural life, livestock markets, farm sales and general auctions. He had the attitude that everything had a value.

"Unfortunately, as life went by, he suffered from mental health issues which the Rickards took full advantage of, preventing him from receiving much needed help from his family, friends and qualified professionals.

"There was a glimmer of hope for him when we had conversations about him moving out and living close to Hannah, a daughter he adored, but this was never going to be the case living under the same roof as Lynda and Wayne Rickard.

Anthony's mother, Joy Sootheran (Image from Thames Valley Police)

"Anthony was only 59 years old when he died, which is no age at all. We cannot comprehend how somebody who said they cared deeply for Anthony, let him die in such horrible conditions.

"The negative impact this has had on our lives and especially that of Anthony’s daughter Hannah, has been heart-breaking.

"We have not had the chance to grieve and be able to get on with a normal life. Our trust in people has deteriorated significantly and we have had to heavily rely on each other to help us get through this to be able to process what has happened.

"During this trial we are still no further forward at being given answers from either of the Rickard’s on why they did this to Joy and Anthony. Our final visit to see Anthony, which was prevented by Lynda Rickard, will stay with us forever.

Anthony Sootheran outside church in 1985 (Image from Thames Valley Police)

"The family would like to thank all the Thames Valley Police Major Crime unit and the CPS for their dedication, professionalism and hard work in bringing this case to court.

"We would also like to thank Oliver Saxby QC and Jane Brady for presenting this very complex case, and at long last receiving justice for Anthony and Joy.

"We would also like to make a special thank you to DC Leila Kennett for the tremendous support that she has given to us as a family.

"We would now ask for our privacy to be respected, so we can privately and finally start to grieve as a family."

The tribute comes following the convictions of Lynda and Wayne Rickard.

After a seven week trial, Lynda Rickard was found guilty of murder last week.

Anthony Sootheran was found dead at the family owned farm, where he lived with the Rickards, on 18 March 2014

The court found Anthony Sootheran was controlled, isolated, and defrauded before tragically dying, with Lynda Rickard’s intention being to inherit Anthony’s valuable estate, which was valued at approximately £3.5 million.

Lynda Rickard was on trial with her husband Wayne at Reading Crown Court, both accused of Mr Sootheran’s murder.

Her husband, Wayne Rickard, aged 66, also of Banbury, was cleared of murder but convicted of causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult. He was today jailed for 10-and-a-half years.

Three other defendants involved in the trial were also convicted for their roles in the callous defrauding of Anthony and Joy.

Denise Neal, aged 41, Lower Tysoe in Warwickshire, and Michael Dunkey, aged 49, Milcombe, were both found guilty of one count of fraud relating to Anthony’s forged will.

Shanda Robinson, aged 51, of Banbury, was convicted of one count of fraud and perverting the course of public justice relating to Joy’s forged will and trying to pass it off as genuine in court proceedings.

A sixth defendant, June Alsford, aged 78, of Aynho in South Northamptonshire, had previously pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice relating to Joy’s forged will.

Denise Neal was sentenced to two years’ and three months’ imprisonment.

Shanda Robinson was sentenced to two years’ and eight months’ imprisonment.

Michael Dunkley was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and June Alsford was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment suspended for two years.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Howard, of the Major Crime Unit, said: “This conviction is understood to have made legal history by it being the first time that a murder conviction has related to the deliberate starvation of an adult victim.

“The sentences handed down to Lynda and Wayne Rickard today properly reflect the true horror of their actions and I hope that Anthony’s family and friends will see these sentences as justice for him, even though they will in no way atone for the suffering that he had to endure."