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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Woman keeps daughter-in-law who stole from her out of jail

A woman who stole nearly £7,000 from her 89-year-old widowed mother-in-law walked free from Carlisle Crown Court after the old lady pleaded on her behalf.

Deborah Graham, 46, took about £5,000 by using her victim’s bank card to withdraw money at cash machines.

And she took almost another £2,000 by using her catalogue account to buy such things as bedding and computers .

After reading the moving letter that kept her out of jail, the judge, Recorder Kevin Grice, told her: “What a lovely lady. How cruel it was that it was her trust that you abused in the way you did.

“You have lost your good name and will never get it back.”

Prosecuting counsel Mark Lamberty told the court that Graham, of Tithebarn Street, Carlisle, had plundered the old lady’s bank account for seven months.

It was only when the pensioner noticed that her daughter-in-law knew too much about where she kept her bank cards that she became suspicious.

She then checked her bank statements and saw that money had been withdrawn from cash machines she never used herself.

The widow spoke to her son about it but refused to call in the police until a few months later when debt recovery agents working for the catalogue company told her there had been purchases she knew nothing about, Mr Lamberty said.

Graham was arrested and immediately made a full confession.

Yesterday she pleaded guilty to charges of theft and fraud. Defence barrister Greg Hoare said Graham had stolen the money at a time when she was off work with a bad back and her husband had just lost his job.

“She would like to think that, if she had been able to step back and take a rather cooler look at what she was doing, her good character would have kicked in and prevented her from doing it,” he said.

Mr Hoare said Graham had used the money for “necessaries,” not for funding an extravagant lifestyle. She had resolved to reimburse every penny, he said, and had so far paid back £450 – though he admitted that at the rate she has managed so far it would take her 10 years to repay it all.

The judge told Graham she might have gone to prison had it not been for the effect it would have had on her family.

Instead he gave her a 20-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered her to do 150 hours unpaid community work.

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