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Cleaner stole £7000 from pensioner

PUBLISHED: 07:56 21 July 2009 | UPDATED: 11:09 12 July 2010

A cleaner who systematically stole more than £7,000 from the bank account of a vulnerable 87-year-old Norfolk pensioner was spared an immediate prison sentence yesterday .

A cleaner who systematically stole more than £7,000 from the bank account of a vulnerable 87-year-old Norfolk pensioner was spared an immediate prison sentence on Monday.

Mother-of-four Hayley Scales worked for Maurice Brocklehurst who suffers from a number of health difficulties following a mini stroke that left him in a confused state, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Over a two-year period, the 36-year-old stole £7,012 by cashing cheques from the Diss pensioner's bank account after forging his signature.

Ben Brighouse, prosecuting, said the thefts came to light after Mr Brocklehurst's son Paul, who had moved in to care for his father, became suspicious that something was wrong.

Fifteen cheques had been cashed and Mr Brighouse said that although the bank had paid back a large proportion of the cash, the pensioner had still been left £1,670 out of pocket.

Scales of Uplands Way, Diss, admitted stealing the cash between June 2006 and June 2008.

In a statement, Paul Brocklehurst said his father, who also suffers from diabetes, was distressed by what happened and could not understand why Scales had stopped visiting as she had been his cleaner for 10 years and was part of his daily routine. He said she was almost like an adopted part of his family and he looked forward to her visits.

Jailing Scales for 51 weeks, suspended for two years, Recorder James Wood ordered her to pay £1,000 back to the victim. He also sentenced her to 150 hours unpaid work.

“It was a gross, cruel, dishonest and grave breach of trust perpetrated against a helpless victim. It was a wicked offence,” he said.

Jonathan Mitchell, mitigating, said that Scales had a son with behaviour problems and had been under great stress at the time of the offences.

“She is deeply ashamed of what she has done. She did not use the money to fund a lavish lifestyle but to support her family. She is not a woman who out of avarice decides to steal from a vulnerable old man, there are exceptional circumstances.”

After the case the victim's son Paul Brocklehurst said: “I did not want to see her go to prison, it was a wicked crime but not downright evil. Money can be replaced but you cannot remove the distress by waving a magic wand and making it all better.”


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