A female fraudster who stole more than £10,000 from a terminally ill pensioner she befriended in a supermarket has been spared jail.
Scheming Melanie Dee Vickers, 35, was entrusted with Sylvia Martin’s bank card to carry out errands for her.
But a court heard the mum-of-two diverted £5,400 to her own account and then took out loans in the OAP’s name after cleaning out her funds.
The total dishonesty was more than £10,000 with Vickers splashing out on shopping, including £503 worth of goods at Argos and £240 with Next Directory.
Mrs Martin, 75, who was dying from lung cancer was “devastated” when the bank alerted her and her son to suspicious activity on her account.
A court heard she died on December 21 last year after spending her last months in distress and heartbroken by the betrayal of trust.
Vickers, of Hinckley, Leics., admitted five counts of fraud and one of theft between July and October last year at Leicester Crown Court on Wednesday (2/11).
But the single mum was spared jail when she was handed a 15-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, with a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement.
Judge Nicholas Dean QC told Vickers: “You knew Mrs Martin was vulnerable and dying of terminal lung cancer, that’s the person you took advantage of.
“She trusted you and you abused her trust in a despicable way. It was callous.
“For the rest of your life you’ll have to carry the burden of knowing you acted dishonestly towards a woman who did you no harm and looked kindly upon you and was dying.
“You now know of the distress you caused to Sylvia Martin and her family.
“The pre-sentence report says you were troubled at the time of this offending.
“It doesn’t explain why you did what you did but it provides important mitigation.
“You’re a single mother with two quite young children and were struggling financially and it’s likely that caused you to act in that way to relieve some of the financial stress you were under.”
Mrs Martin’s son Steven Martin, 75, from Hinckley, was in court to see Vickers be spared jail.
In a victim impact statement read out in court, he said: “Melanie developed a friendship with my mother who loved her.
“For someone to take advantage of her was heart-reaking and she began blaming herself.
“She spent her last time on this earth trying to make sense of what happened.
“I can’t think about my mum without thinking about what Melanie did to her in the last few months of her life.
“Even at the funeral people were speaking about what she’d done. She falsely presented as though she’d do anything for anyone.”
The court heard Vickers has a previous conviction for false accounting and theft whilst employed at a petrol station from 2010.
Steven Newcombe, defending, said: “She feels tremendous shame and has expressed sorrow and regret.
“She’s at a loss to explain her actions.”
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Martin said: “I’m disappointed she hasn’t paid for what she did to my mother.
“What do you have to do to go to prison?
“I can’t forgive her, she took everything from mum; even stealing when mum was in hospital.”
Mr Martin said his mother worked hard all her life in the hosiery industry and was “a good woman”.