Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting KNEWS to 80360, or email
Sutton neighbour stole £4,100 from pensioner
11:01am Thursday 15th August 2013 in News
A 63-year-old woman who stole £4,100 from her elderly and vulnerable neighbour has been jailed.
Margaret Stead abused the trust and friendship of 87-year-old Betty Brazier to settle debts, including from an online bingo gambling site, Skipton magistrates heard on Friday.
Stead, of Croft Hill in Sutton, had been friends with Mrs Brazier for some time, was a regular visitor and would help out with her shopping, said Caroline Midgley, prosecuting.
Stead had been trusted with her neighbour’s bank details and cheque book, which she then used to transfer money into her own account.
Carers looking after Mrs Brazier became concerned in May last year about a number of cheques being made out for large amounts from her account when most of her bills were paid by direct debit.
Inquiries by the police with Mrs Brazier’s bank revealed the cheques had been made out to Stead, Mrs Midgley added.
When interviewed by police, the former shop worker, of previous good character, said she had bought items on behalf of Mrs Brazier, but accepted she had also kept money for herself and had not realised it had amounted to so much.
Stead, who had admitted theft from her neighbour between July 8, 2011 and April, 26, 2012, had been cut off by the majority of her family, including her own elderly parents, her daughter and sister, the court heard.
In mitigation, John Mewies said Stead and her husband, who was standing by her, had suffered a “catastrophic” decline in their fortunes.
He said she had to leave her job at a retail outlet in Skipton because of health difficulties and had found herself at home, depressed and unemployed. Her husband, who had been working for the local authority, also had to leave his job.
Stead had got into the habit of dropping in on Mrs Brazier and had gained her trust, and in exchange for carrying out tasks for her, had been told to “take some money for herself”, said Mr Mewies.
“She became more and more involved in her finances. Mrs Brazier put her trust in her, and sadly that trust was abused. “ As a result of her actions, the majority of her family had wanted nothing more to do with her, added Mr Mewies.
“On reflection, she is disgusted by the distress her behaviour has caused this lady. Both her parents have distanced themselves from her, and her daughter has said she wants nothing more to do with her. They believe she has brought shame on the family.”
Mrs Brazier is now in full-time residential care.
Magistrates told Stead a community order was not justified because of the seriousness of her crime, and that it was only her early guilty plea that had stopped them sending her to crown court for sentencing.
She was handed a 26-week prison sentence and ordered to pay compensation of £600 to Mrs Brazier within two weeks.