Addict stole from OAP, 95

Preston Crown Court.

Preston Crown Court.

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A pensioner who has dedicated decades of her life to the community had hundreds of pounds stolen by a man who was supposed to be her carer.

The 95-year-old, who the Evening Post is not naming in order to protect her, had been close friends with defendant Tracy Hardinge, 54, and his mum before she passed away seven years ago.

It was a very mean offence. She’s a very old and disabled lady and she clearly did not keep a close eye on her finances

After her friend’s death, the victim, who is registered disabled, allowed Hardinge to become her carer, and even lent the heroin addict money to buy a car.

But secretly, drug-addled Hardinge of Barry Avenue, Ingol, was helping himself to cash from her bank account.

Sentencing him for theft, Judge Andrew Woolman, sitting at Preston Crown Court, said: “ It was a very mean offence. She’s a very old and disabled lady and she clearly did not keep a close eye on her finances. You were a friend of hers through your late mother, and you wormed your way into her affections over two years.

“ I can only sentence you for the theft of £800, but it’s clear she believes what you did was a lot worse. You were there to help her and you also helped yourself – to some of her money.”

He suspended Hardinge’s 20-week jail term for two years after he pleaded guilty to theft, and ordered him to do 200 hours unpaid work, saying this would benefit the community more than a short jail term that would not tackle his offending. He must pay £800 compensation and £450 costs.

The pensioner lost her husband of 23 years in 1995 and threw herself into community work.

Despite suffering from osteoporosis and arthritis, she achieved an MBE for her tireless work with police and community groups.