A woman stole over £1,000 from her dead neighbour out of spite, Lincoln Crown Court was told.
Catherine Plaice and her partner had helped care for their neighbour Joan Healey when she was alive. Within days of Ms Healey’s death in February this year Plaice removed cash in two transactions carried out at two Boston post offices.
Phil Howes, prosecuting, said that following Joan Healey’s death in hospital her Post Office account was checked by a relative who discovered there was less in than there should have been.
Inquiries revealed that a withdrawal of £600 had been made at West Street from the account on February 25 and a similar amount the following day from Strait Bargate.
When Plaice was seen by police she admitted she took the cash saying she used it to buy a bed and pay off debts. The thefts left Ms Healey’s family struggling to pay for her funeral, said Mr Howes.
The court was told that Plaice had 19 previous convictions for a total of 52 offences, including 32 thefts.
Plaice, 46, of Bartol Crescent, Boston, pleaded guilty to two charges of theft. She was given a 24 week jail sentence suspended for a year with a six month alcohol treatment requirement and a 20 day rehabilitation activity requirement.
Recorder Paul Mann QC, passing sentence, told her: “These were mean offences. How low are you capable of sinking?”
He added: “These offences are aggravated by your previous convictions and the fact that this was motivated by spite.”
Sunil Khanna, in mitigation, told the court that Plaice is “desperately sorry” for what she did.
“She and her partner were the neighbours of Joan Healey for 14 years.
“In the two years prior to her passing away they took on a great deal of responsibility in looking after this lady. Her partner would assist in taking Joan shopping, withdrawing cash and attending doctor’s appointments.
“When she passed away the impact on Catherine Plaice and her partner was quite significant. They had quite a lot of affection for Joan Healey.”
Mr Khanna said that Plaice believed that Joan Healey rarely saw members of her family but understood any money would go to them.
“She thought it wrong. She made the foolish decision to make two withdrawals of £600 each. She knows what she did was wrong. She has tried since to get a loan from the Benefits Agency to repay the money.”