A WOMAN stole her brother’s £26,000 inheritance to loan to her lover who turned out to be married.
Sharon Reavley had been trusted to divide her late mother’s estate after her death in May 2010 but gave Frank Tufton’s share to her boyfriend to invest in his business.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the 57-year-old was collared when Mr Tufton began to ask his sister for his money in 2013, after a period of illness, and was given “various excuses” by her.
Investigations revealed Reavley had also conned a close friend out of her £3,000 life savings by pretending to be in such a dire state of debt that there were bailiffs at her door.
Reavley, of Hertburn Gardens, Washington, admitted theft and fraud.
Donald McFaul, defending, said Reavley handed over the money to her boyfriend in the belief she was in a legitimate relationship with him and would get it back out of the business he was investing it in.
Mr McFaul said the man she put her trust in turned out to be already married to someone else.
He added: “She hoped the money would be back if the business was a success.
“She trusted the person she believed she was in a relationship with.
“She is thoroughly ashamed of herself.
“She should not have done what she did but it was in expectation it would be repaid by the person who she invested her trust, she thought everything would be all right.”
Mr McFaul said Reavley has made efforts to pay the money back to her brother but is now struggling on benefits.
Mr Recorder Richard Woolfall sentenced Reavley to nine months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with 100 hours unpaid work.
The judge told her: “You have lost your good character and it is clear you are ashamed of what you have done.
“To some extent you were persuaded by the man you believed you were the only person to have a relationship with, who needed the money for his business ventures, and no doubt persuaded you once they came good you would get the money back.
“Clearly, you accept by your guilty pleas you should not have used that money.
“The motivation was you were doing it for the person you loved.”
The court heard the man she loaned the money to was originally accused of theft and acquisition of proceeds of criminal conduct.
However prosecutors dropped the case against him.
He is now suffering from terminal cancer and was not at the hearing.