A callous carer, who stole more than £11,000 from the vulnerable South Yorkshire woman she was employed to care for has been given a suspended prison sentence - and has been told she will not have to repay her elderly victim anything.
During a sentencing hearing at Sheffield Crown Court today Judge Michael Slater sentenced Diana Clegg to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, for two counts of fraud.
Prosecuting, Michael Greenhalgh, told the court was told how Clegg began working for her elderly victim, who lived alone and had health problems including cataracts and the 'beginnings of dementia' in 2012.
Clegg, aged 60, was employed by the woman, now aged 76-years-old, to clean, cook and shop for her. As part of their arrangement the woman trusted Clegg with her bank card and was told to take out £100 on a debit card on a weekly-basis. She was instructed to keep £50 of the money for payment and to give her the other £50.
Concerns were raised by the woman’s family back in March 2016, after seeing out of date food in the fridge and questions about her care and money were then asked, resulting in the launch of an investigation in to Clegg.
Mr Greenhalgh said: "By 2016 her family raised concerns about her, and asked her about her finances. The family could see there was a large number of cash withdrawals that had not been permitted.
"They called the defendant and the police."
Examination of the woman's two bank accounts revealed that a sum of £29,580 had been withdrawn over the four year period, and that Clegg had pocketed £11,080 more than she should have.
Clegg, Campsall Field Road, Wath, Rotherham, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud at an earlier hearing.
David Webster, defending, told the court: "This was not fraudulent from the outset, there was value to the services she provided to her, but of course she had no entitlement to help herself."
Mr Webster continued by saying Clegg also suffered from a number of long-standing health problems, which meant she was also vulnerable.
He said Clegg's offending was motivated by debts she had racked up through gambling online.
Judge Slater told Clegg: "At the time these offences were committed, you have been described as someone in a vulnerable state of health. That doesn't excuse what you did.
"You befriended this elderly lady with significant problems of her own. In fact you became her carer, you were paid to be such."
Due to Clegg's spiraling debts Judge Slater did not order her to repay the money she had stolen from her victim.
He said: "I leave it to your conscience as to whether you feel inclined to reimburse the complainant as and when you can."
Judge Slater also ordered her to complete a 15-day rehabilitation programme.
PC Lynn Robins, the investigating officer, from the vulnerable person and antisocial behaviour unit, said: “Clegg had cared for the lady for a number of years and was paid £50 every week for doing so.
“The victim, who understandably trusted Clegg, having known her for a number of years, gave her access to her bankcards as she often did the shopping and even helped her to change banks on one occasion.
“After concerns were raised by the victim’s family last year, they looked at her bank accounts and realised that significant amounts of cash had been withdrawn every month.”
Police were called and a complex investigation began, as PC Robins explains.
“In 2015 alone, the victim had £11,996 of cash withdrawn from her account, while very little money ever left Clegg’s account.
“Our enquiries, and analysis of numerous financial records and the accounts of both Clegg and the victim, discovered that more than £20k had been stolen.
“Throughout the investigation, Clegg showed no remorse and blamed the victim, claiming that she had willingly handed over the money.
“She deliberately took advantage of a vulnerable woman, who had put her entire trust in Clegg and even viewed her as a close friend. I’m pleased that at an earlier hearing, Clegg finally acknowledged her guilt and claimed responsibility.
“Clegg carelessly and selfishly spent the money on shopping and online gambling, amongst other things, with no thought to the victim and for the consequences of her actions.”