A THIEF stole cash from her 83-year-old next-door neighbour to pay off loan sharks.
Heartless Frances Agar helped herself to the pensioner’s bank card and took out £3,700 in just over a month.
The 46-year-old, who helped care for the woman and her late husband, was collared when the widowed victim visited the bank to check her balance.
Agar, of Scruton Avenue, Plains Farm, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to theft between October 15 and November 21 last year.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that, despite the betrayal, the victim did not want to see Agar put behind bars.
Prosecutor Bridie Smurthwaite told the court the woman believed Agar has “learnt her lesson”.
Miss Smurthwaite said: “She is grateful for the help she has given her and her late husband.”
During police interview, Agar confessed what she had done and said she had trouble with loan sharks, who she could not afford to pay. She said she thought stealing the cash was the quickest way out.
Miss Smurthwaite added: “She said she feels she has betrayed the trust of the victim, who she feels would have given her the money if she had asked.”
Jamie Adams, defending, said the loan sharks had been putting pressure on Agar.
He added: “£100 became £4,000 in a short space of time.
“She is desperately sorry. She has done an awful thing and she knows she has.”
Mr Adams said that, despite what happened, the victim remained friends with Agar.
Mr Recorder Jackson QC sentenced Agar to four months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with supervision.
The judge said: “She was a vulnerable, elderly lady.”