April 14, 2022 11.50 am This story is over 25 months old

Woman who stole £4k from disabled friend to fund drug habit avoids jail

She was given a suspended sentence

A Mablethorpe woman stole £4,000 from a disabled pensioner in her 90s after being trusted with her bank card.

Claire Smith, 45, was paid to care for her long term friend Margaret Myers but betrayed that trust after becoming addicted to drugs, Lincoln Crown Court heard.

Smith, of Long Acre, Mablethorpe, admitted taking £4,000 over several months after being given Miss Myers bank card and PIN number.

Lauren Fisher, prosecuting, told the court Miss Myers paid Smith £10 an hour to help her with daily tasks.

The court heard Miss Myers regarded Smith as a friend and would give her money at difficult times such as Christmas.

Miss Fisher said Smith was entrusted with the pensioner’s bank card and PIN number when she became too infirm to use a cash machine.

But Miss Myers became suspicious when the amounts withdrawn were larger than her £500 per month requirement.

Bank records showed a total of £7,953 was withdrawn from the pensioner’s account between August 2020 and February 2021 – including seven transactions for £500 in January 2021.

Miss Fisher said some of the money would have been for legitimate withdrawals, but Smith admitted taking £4,000 for herself when she was interviewed by the probation service.

In her video interview Miss Myers said she was extremely upset by the thefts as she regarded Smith as a friend.

David Eager, mitigating, said Smith had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and stayed out of trouble.

Mr Eager told the court: “She has done everything possible to turn things around.

“She bitterly regrets what she did to this lady after succumbing to drugs.

“This was her friend of four years.”

Smith pleaded guilty to a single charge of fraud between 1 July 2020 and 1 February 2021.

She was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment suspended for two years and must also complete 25 rehabilitation activity days.

Passing sentence Judge Simon Hirst told Smith she had abused the kindness and trust of Miss Myers.

But Judge Hirst said he could avoid passing an immediate jail sentence because Smith had stayed out of trouble and posed a low risk of re-offending.