A heartbroken gran is locked in a bitter legal battle with her grandson after he vanished with her and her partner’s £50,000 life savings.
Isabella Mill, 77, and John McCartan, 75, handed over the money to her businessman grandson James Mill after he promised to help them buy their new home together.
But now, three years on, his devastated gran had to borrow money to move to a modest two-bedroom flat in Irvine, Ayrshire, while James has bragged about enjoying a flash lifestyle in a £320,000 property.
Retired factory supervisor Isabella cried as she told of her “anger” at the grandson she once loved, while ex-lorry driver John said he had been left “feeling sick” at the loss of their savings.
Isabella told the Daily Record : “I didn’t think he would do this to me. We had a good relationship and I really loved him.
“This has gone on and on and we now believe there is no hope of getting the money back. I feel like he’s just getting away with it.”
Isabella and John’s money didn’t make it into a solicitor’s account for the house purchase in 2018.
After they called police 33-year-old James claimed his account had been frozen.
The pensioners took their case to court and a sheriff made an order for the immediate return of the money but they have yet to receive back a penny.
They have lost all hope of James – who lives in a gated, detached four-bedroom villa on the outskirts of the town – ever returning their cash.
The ordeal began when widowed Isabella decided to sell the flat she owned and buy a property with John.
They say James, who has had ventures in property and hospitality, offered to be their “agent” and deal with solicitors on their behalf.
Isabella said: “He was a businessman and seemed to be doing well for himself so I said ‘fine’.”
The gran said she had already given her then trusted grandson £4,000, which he said would be used towards the purchase.
She transferred £26,000 and a further £2,650 in “lawyer’s fees” via internet banking before John transferred his £20,000 share.
A writ lodged at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court in 2019 reveals how the couple only discovered the cash had not been paid by James when they were contacted by solicitors shortly before the sale was due to close to ask when the money would be received.
Isabella said: “It went on and on and we couldn’t contact him and he wasn’t answering his phone. In the end I said I was going to the police.”
The couple went ahead with the purchase of their new home using the last of their savings and money borrowed from family.
Lawyers’ letters detail how police questioned James but he told them his account had been locked.
Isabella said: “The police said, ‘I think you better get a lawyer.’ So we took it to the civil court.
“We were backwards and forward to the lawyer and I had to pay for that too. It’s been very stressful.”
James did not defend the action and a decree was granted ordering him to return all of Isabella and John’s money.
He was also made liable for £3,700 legal costs, leaving him owing £56,341.47.
Lawyers for the couple also placed an inhibition order on James’s £320,000 home, restricting what he can do with the property for several years.
James emailed the couple’s lawyers in 2019 stating that he wished to repay the couple in full from the sale of a property but payment was not received.
He then offered to pay lump sums for several months until he could release pension funds to repay the balance but did not follow through on the agreement.
Last year a debt repayment plan was set up promising to repay most of the cash over six-and-a-half years but the couple say they received only three payments of just over £500 between May and August last year before being notified of an application to revoke the order.
It was the final blow for Isabella, who lost her son, James’ dad James Sr, in a motorbike accident 12 years ago when he was aged just 40.
She said her grandson has never given her an explanation of what happened to her money and their once close relationship is now in tatters.
She said: “Our relationship had been good. I used to take him on his holidays when he was young and looked after him just about every weekend until he was about 14.
“He would go for my prescriptions when his papa died and he had a cafe in the middle of the town we would go to.
“He invited us up for meals at his house.
“I thought the world of him. I thought he was a good businessman and doing well and I was proud of him.
“I just didn’t expect this of him. I’m so angry.
“We don’t speak at all now. I’ve left it up to the lawyers now but they’re not getting any further forward either. We’ve lost hope of getting it back.”
John added: “It just makes you feel sick to see your life savings disappear with the swipe of a phone.”
Mill is linked to seven active businesses on Companies House, including a property holdings firm, and a string of dissolved companies.
He has posted pictures on social media of him relaxing in his vast back garden and also shared information on various business ventures while the court battle with his gran was ongoing.
In one Facebook post last year, sharing a picture of his garden, Mills wrote: “Phase 1 of garden light project! Very happy indeed.”
And in another, showing designer shoes resting on a garden seat, he said: “I really should do this more often
Talking about the shoes, he told a pal: “nice pair of Loake of London – yeeeeees.”
James was traced to a hotel in Dreghorn he was previously known to be running.
When we asked why he had stopped paying his gran the money he owes, he said: “That’s due to Covid.”
He declined to comment further.