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Sunday, 31 August 2014

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Carlisle woman stole £8,000 from friend, 87, she was meant to be looking after

A woman who stole more than £8,000 from the bank account of a pensioner she was supposed to be looking after has been jailed.

Dawn Ballantyne photo
Dawn Ballantyne

Dawn Ballantyne, 48, of Sewell Road, Currock, Carlisle, raided the account of Agnes Ullyart, over a five-year period.

The pair had been neighbours for more than 25 years.

But when Mrs Ullyart’s daughter moved away, Ballantyne stepped in to help the 87-year-old woman.

Carlisle Crown Court was told Ballantyne used the money to supplement her income but never told her family what she was doing.

Prosecutor Rod Halligan said: “Mrs Ullyart suffered a minor stroke in 2004 which left her with some problems with her legs and she couldn’t move around properly. She needed some assistance.

“Up until 2005, Mrs Ullyart was looked after by her daughter but when she moved away the family approached the defendant who had been a trusted neighbour for 25 years and asked her if she would help.

“In return for her help – collecting Mrs Ullyart’s pension and doing her shopping and cleaning – the defendant was paid £50-a-week. The problem arose in November 2010, when Mrs Ullyart’s daughter asked if there were any bank statements from her mother’s account.

“Ballantyne said she had not received any statements from Mrs Ullyart’s Post Office account for a long time.

Inquiries were made and the Post Office said statements had been sent out every three months.

“When the account was examined it emerged that extra money had been taken out.”

Ballantyne admitted stealing cash from Mrs Ullyart at an earlier court appearance.

Defence counsel Andrew Ford said: “My client is very, very sorry for what she has done. She was the victim’s close friend and neighbour and was a very good physical help to her – shopping and dressing her which makes the breach of trust even worse.

“When she needed extra cash she topped herself up using money from Mrs Ullyart’s account. It’s dreadful and dishonest. It was an abuse of their relationship rather than the deliberate targeting of an unknown victim.

“The defendant fell on hard times after she was made redundant from a fish and chip shop.

“She did not lead a luxurious life by way of these extra means.”

Sentencing Ballantyne to eight months in jail, Recorder Harry Narayan said: “This was a theft from a vulnerable lady over a long period of time – five years – and that is the aggravating feature.”

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