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Suffolk carer cheats widow out of money

PUBLISHED: 20:57 29 May 2004 | UPDATED: 04:55 02 March 2010

A SUFFOLK carer has been found guilty of cheating a disabled widow out of more than £150 after using her bankcard to pay bills and make withdrawals.

Rosemary Lightfoot, 37, was convicted on one count of theft and another of obtaining money by deception at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday.

A SUFFOLK carer has been found guilty of cheating a disabled widow out of more than £150 after using her bankcard to pay bills and make withdrawals.

Rosemary Lightfoot, 37, was convicted on one count of theft and another of obtaining money by deception at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday.

Lightfoot, stole a total of £160.44 from pensioner Betty Hales, who has suffered a stroke and an embolism.

The jury unanimously convicted her on the theft charge, relating to £100 taken from Mrs Hales' Barclays Bank account in July last year.

Lightfoot was also found guilty of obtaining £60.44 by deception in August 2001, on an 11-1 majority verdict.

She was cleared of a further six counts of theft and eight of obtaining a money transfer by deception between May 1997 and July 2003.

During the trial, the court heard how Mrs Hales, 66, regarded Lightfoot as the "daughter she never had."

Giving evidence from her wheelchair, Mrs Hales told the court how the only people who knew her card PIN were her son John, who she trusted "implicitly", and Lightfoot.

Prosecuting, Samantha Leigh said to Lightfoot: "I suggest to you that because of how much you knew she trusted you, you started to take advantage of her."

During her evidence Lightfoot, who denied all the charges, said she had never used Mrs Hales' card without authorisation except for one "genuine error."

However, she claimed that the pensioner knew of and accepted the mistake, and even offered to pay bills for her over the telephone because she did not have a debit card.

Judge John Devaux adjourned sentencing for a report to be prepared, but warned Lightfoot that all of the court's options remain open when she returns to be sentenced on the week of June 28.

Lightfoot, of Nelson Road in Pakefield, was the last defendant to be convicted at the old Ipswich Crown Court Building, which closed last night.

After the case, a statement read on behalf of Mrs Hales, who lives in Lowestoft, said: "We would like to thank the police, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the court system for the hours of dedicated work that have been undertaken since last July.

"Betty would also like to thank her family, friends and carers for their love and support."

A Suffolk police spokesman added: "I'm very pleased with the verdict.

"It's been a lot of hard work by the police and the CPS and it's good to get a verdict. The case wasn't always cut and dried and we had to put the work in to get the evidence and get the guilty verdicts.

"Nobody is a winner in this – certainly not Mrs Hales."

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