A woman with dementia was defrauded of £15,000 when a thief stole her chequebook from her son’s car.
Lisa Marie Millward, a recovering heroin addict, had spotted the chequebook on the seat of Kenneth Woodhouse’s car as she went to tend her horses at stables near his home, Preston Magistrates’ Court was told.
Millward, 35, of Slaidburn Road, Ribbleton, Preston, went on to cash cheques worth a total of £17,210 by forging signatures on them.
The funds were paid into her partner’s bank account, but he was not charged with any offence as the court accepted he had not known about it.
She pleaded guilty to stealing cheques belonging to elderly Hannah Woodhouse between September 1 and 21, stealing cheques belonging to Kenneth Woodhouse between September 19 and October 10 and two counts of fraud.
Millward cried and dabbed her eyes with a tissue as prosecuting, Martine Connah said £15,510 was stolen from the elderly lady and a further £1,700 from her son.
She said: “Kenneth Woodhouse has power of attorney over his mother’s financial affairs.
“She is in a registered care home. On October 7 he received a call from the assistant manager of Lloyds Bank informing his mother’;s account was overdrawn
“He knew this could not be the case as he had transferred enough into the account to cover her acre fees.
A probe found cheques had been fraudulently cashed and he then realised his mother’s chequebook was missing.
A court order had to be obtained to look at Millward’s partner’s account and the couple were arrested.
In a police interview Millward confirmed she knew Mr Woodhouse because he lived next to an address where she kept horses.
She said she had seen the cheque book on the front passenger seat.
The court heard she was on methadone but was taking illegal nitrazepam and spent up to £250 a day on it.
She has previous convictions for theft.
She was sentenced to 34 weeks suspended for two years with a rehabilitation activity requirement.