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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Carlisle woman ordered to pay back every penny of stolen money

A woman who stole nearly £12,000 from the bank account of an 87-year-old neighbour she was supposed to be looking after has been ordered to pay back every penny.

But it could be years before 48-year-old Dawn Ballantyne has repaid all the money that she took from the old lady over five years.

Ballantyne, of Sewell Road, Currock, Carlisle, was jailed for eight months in March after she pleaded guilty to stealing from vulnerable Agnes Ullyart. She has now been released from prison on licence, but was back at Carlisle Crown Court for a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Prosecuting counsel Brendan Burke said that, because of Mrs Ullyart’s age, lawyers involved in the case had been determined to find a way of ensuring that she would get her money back as soon as possible.

Ballantyne, a former fish and chip shop worker, admitted that she had benefited from her crime by £11,580 – the amount she took from Mrs Ullyart.

But because she had only £1,279 in realisable assets that was as much as the court could confiscate.

But Judge Paul Batty QC, the city’s Honorary Recorder, also imposed a compensation order, which will eventually ensure that Ballantyne pays back the rest – £10,300 – too.

She will begin paying it at the rate of £20 a week from her benefits but, the court heard, she expects soon to get a job so should be able to pay much more than that.

“This is a case where real remorse actually features and I suspect the money will be paid sooner rather than later,” her barrister Andrew Ford told the court.

Ballantyne had lived next door to Mrs Ullyart for 25 years and was a trusted neighbour, so when the old lady’s daughter moved away she stepped in to help, by collecting her pension and doing her shopping and cleaning.

In return she was paid £50 a week, but in November 2010 it was discovered she had been helping herself to money from Mrs Ullyart’s post office account too.

At a previous hearing Mr Ford told the court: “When she needed extra cash she topped herself up using money from Mrs Ullyart’s account.”

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