14/08/2014 16:54 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Mum And Stepdad Stole Brain-Damaged Daughter's £2.6 Million Compensation

Mum and stepdad brain-damaged daughter's £2.6 million compensation to live life of luxury

The mother and stepfather of a brain-damaged girl who was awarded £2.6million compensation stole from her to livea life of luxury.

Cathy Watson, 44, and Robert Hills, 49, used money intended for their daughter Samantha's care to buy cars, holidays, jewellery and houses.

A court heard they went from living in a council house on an income of £600 a month to having access to hundreds of thousands of pounds and couldn't control their lavish spending, it was alleged.

In total, they allegedly stole £500,000 from Samantha, who suffered irreversible brain damage because of medical negligence and has cerebral palsy.

The compensation was paid out when Samantha was 15 and, according to prosecutor Katherine Robinson, the couple began 'behaving as though they had won the lottery'.

More than £200,000 was splashed out on cars and £18,000 on jewellery over a five-year period. And in the two years after the compensation was awarded, the couple spent £103,000 on credit cards.

Doncaster Crown Court was told they bought five properties and were given money to buy a holiday villa in Florida so Samantha could enjoy sunshine breaks.

The court heard Hills, who legally adopted Samantha, owned 10 cars in five years, including seven BMWs. Watson drove six cars, including a Mercedes, two BMWs and an Audi A4.

Watson, of Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, denies four offences of theft and one of transferring criminal property.

Her ex-husband Hills, of Grimsby, has admitted four theft offences and gave evidence against her.

The court heard Samantha, now 29, was awarded the massive seven-figure negligence payout in December 1999 after a lengthy legal battle.

The local health authority admitted liability and experts calculated the cash required to fund 24-hour care for life.

Watson was immediately handed £270,000 as payment for expenses and lost income already incurred.

She and her husband – who met when Samantha was a little girl – began receiving £4,000-a-month joint income from the fund to live off themselves.

Any future payments had to be approved by the Court of Protection, to look after Samantha's interests. But Watson and Hills behaved as if they were personally rich.

Hills said they had lived 'week to week and hand to mouth' on his limited earnings, but everything changed with the legal settlement.

Miss Robinson said: "As a result of the actions of her parents, Samantha will not enjoy the quality of life that the award made to her was designed to ensure."

The case continues.