THOUSANDS of pounds were plundered from an elderly couple’s bank account by their granddaughter who took the money to pay for online gaming and a holiday.
Mum-of-three Sarah Mallon stole the money from her grandparents, Margaret and Peter Cantrill, who had brought her up as their own child.
She took the cash after they entrusted her with access to their bank account to run errands and loaned her £600 to buy a car.
The despicable thefts only to came to light when grandfather Peter died, aged 89, prompting other family members to look at the bank account.
Prosecuting, Tammy Mears told Portsmouth Crown Court there had been at least 100 transactions, totalling £7,000, taken from the account between August 2012 and October 2013.
Miss Mears said the money had been spent online at Ladbrokes and Amazon, and on things like takeaway pizzas, a holiday and Xbox games.
She said: ‘Indeed, it was spent on things they had not even heard of. Mrs Cantrill said she does not even know what an Xbox is.’
Mallon, 38, had been given her grandparents’ pin code after she borrowed some money, and she then proceeded to make the transactions, some as little as £15, sometimes more than once a day.
Her solicitor, Anne Brown, said Mallon had taken to online gambling in the hope of winning the money back and that she was horrified when she found out the total.
Her grandparents, both in their 80s, had been living on teachers’ pensions, and Mr Cantrill had two pensions from his time serving in the army and the Royal Navy, when the thefts happened.
The transactions pushed them into their overdraft, something that had never happened before, and meant that further transactions Mallon tried to process were refused.
Mallon, a security guard with the Ministry of Defence, had run into financial difficulty after splitting up with her partner, and then choosing to pay for childcare over her rent, which led to her being evicted and homeless for four months.
Miss Brown argued that a prison sentence would impact on Mallon’s three children as they would lose the family home, which is a council property they have only recently moved into.
Mallon, of Lowton Gardens, Clanfield, pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation. She cried as the judge sentenced her to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years, with the requirement to attend specified women’s activity sessions.
Mallon criticised by judge over her ‘abhorrent’ crime
RECORDER Andrew Maitland was scathing of Mallon.
He said: ‘There are few offences more abhorrent in these courts than where a member of a family has abused the trust and love given from an ageing relative.’
Mr Maitland added: ‘The one thing that convinces me against custody is that the product of your offending had the ability of breaking up your family with catastrophic results.
‘You have put at risk, through your actions repeatedly over an extended period of time, the whole family that in the past you have struggled to keep together. You must have realised that.’