A WOMAN who had control of her sick aunt’s finances plundered her account and left the 84-year-old on the brink of being evicted from a care home.
Janine Brown stole between £16,000 and £23,000 from Jacqueline Draper, who has Alzheimer’s, and left her with just £260.
For months the 52-year-old failed to pay the bills for her aunt’s care at Ranvilles Nursing Home in Titchfield.
Prosecutor Simon Foster told Portsmouth Crown Court: ‘It got to the very unhappy position for the care home where they were potentially having to evict a patient with dementia.’
He said it was not clear exactly how much had been stolen because while £23,000 had been withdrawn Brown insisted £7,000 of that had been spent on Miss Draper.
Between 2008 and 2011 the mother-of-one used her aunt’s pension and benefits to pay her phone and house-hold bills, food and clothes shopping and to clear her 25-year-old son Daniel Brown’s online gambling debts.
Nicholas Cotter, defending, said she had lost her job and was desperate.
‘Unfortunately she succumbed to temptation,’ he said.
‘She always hoped to make things right when she turned the corner.’
Brown, of Homer Close, Gosport, pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud by abuse of her position.
Judge John Dixon said: ‘What you did was to plunder the account of someone who depended upon you, who relied upon you, for whom you were responsible for caring and your own flesh and blood.
‘That makes the breach of trust particularly serious.
‘People would regard that as a dreadful thing to do.
‘You took thousands and thousands and thousands of your aunt’s money for yourself.’
The judge said Brown had been reckless in allowing her son to use the account to pay off his gambling debts.
‘There was a real prospect that your aunt was going to be evicted in the throes of that dreadful affliction of dementia from the only place that she was safe and secure,’ he said.
‘Thank goodness she was unaware of what was going on and therefore did not suffer any anguish as a result of your offending.’
Brown, who works in a Debenhams call centre, was given a 12-month sentence suspended for 18 months.
She will have 12 months of supervision from the probation service to help her keep out of trouble and must complete 200 hours of unpaid work.
There will be another hearing later this year when the crown will seek to claw back some of the money Brown stole.