A CRUEL woman who stole from a trusting elderly neighbour, who has since died, is today behind bars.
Joy Don was enjoying a holiday paid for with cash stolen from 76-year-old Dorothy Johnson, when her “wicked” £9,000 deception was uncovered.
Newcastle Crown Court heard when Mrs Johnson, who died earlier this year, had trusted Don with her cash card, she thought she was a loyal friend who was helping her out because the pensioner found the chip and pin banking system confusing.
Instead of accessing the cash to pay bills and buy groceries as planned, the mother-of-four, of Ash Grove, Whitburn, simply helped herself.
The 35-year-old’s scam was revealed when Mrs Johnson asked for her post office card back, because Don and her family were going on holiday to Scotland.
It was then that Mrs Johnson’s stunned family realised her account was almost empty.
Michael Bunch, prosecuting, told the court: “It would appear the holiday which gave rise to the matter coming to light was, in part, funded by money taken. In addition, cash was withdrawn immediately before the defendant went on holiday, which appeared to be the spending money for the holiday.”
Mrs Johnson was told by her family that she had been deceived and, as a result, spent her last few months “living in a nightmare”.
The pensioner told police in a statement before her death: “I can’t believe Joy has done this to me.
“I can’t sleep. It’s like living in a nightmare to think she has done such a horrible thing, when I treated her like a daughter.
“When I was in hospital, poorly, she was still taking money from me. I find that horrible.”
Mr Recorder Paul Reid jailed Don for 12 months.
The mum-of-four had pleaded guilty to theft and fraud charges from about 2008 to 2011.
The judge told her: “Mrs Johnson died earlier this year in circumstances where her happiness had been shattered by the discovery that you had been stealing money from her over a significant period.
“Mrs Johnson had learned of what had been going on, and it is clear she felt a deep feeling of betrayal
“I have read a statement from her family, speaking of how you exploited your trusted position and how you cast aside the love and affection bestowed on you by Dorothy Johnson and the rest of the family.
“You stole from her what the family describe as the savings she accumulated from 50 years of hard work.
“It is difficult to comprehend the feeling of betrayal this elderly lady must have felt at your wicked behaviour.
“I would be failing in my duty if I did not demonstrate to the public at large that this sort of wicked behaviour can only have one result.”
Graeme Cook, defending, said Don is ashamed of what she did and has already paid back £560 to the family and lodged £3,590 with her solicitor’s firm to forward to them.
The judge ordered the money to be paid in compensation to Mrs Johnson’s family.
Mr Cook added: “She has to live with the consequences of her actions forever more.”
Mr Cook said Don did not spend the stolen cash on luxury living and was “terrified” of going into jail.
After the hearing, Mrs Johnson’s daughter Patsy Quinn welcomed the sentence of Don.
Mrs Quinn, from Mill Lane, Whitburn, a cook at the Harbour Lights pub in South Shields, added: “We feel that justice was served and in a way we are glad that our mother was not here to see it.
“As far as compensation is concerned, the family’s point of view is that money could have been burned. It is of no interest to us.”