A St Leonards woman who stole £10,000 from two vulnerable elderly neighbours after befriending them and feeding their cats has been jailed.
Haley Mand took so much from an 88-year-old woman that she was left with just £28 to live on, a court heard yesterday.
Both her and the other victim suffered from dementia during the 16 months that Mand spent plundering their bank accounts.
Mand, 35, of Denham Road, pleaded guilty to six charges of fraud by false representation and appeared at Hove Crown Court yesterday for sentencing.
Mand befriended the women and fed their cats
Prosecutor Jennifer Gray said: “This case concerns two separate elderly ladies, both of whom were suffering from dementia.
“Both of whom this defendant had befriended and offered to feed their cats.”
The 88-year-old victim – who died in December – was living in a care home at the time of the offending between June and November 2017.
“Her daughter in law was in charge of her bank account. She discovered that the amount of money in it was going down rapidly.”
Further investigation revealed that a total of £3,010.40 had been stolen and spent on the internet. Mand would order goods online and then sell them on Facebook and eBay.
She was left with just £28 to live on, the court heard.
Shocking £7,179 stolen from second victim
The 73-year-old victim had a staggering £7,179 stolen from her between December 2017 and October 2018, the prosecutor said.
The theft was discovered by her daughters and has left the whole family devastated.
In an emotional statement, her daughter said: “There was a period of time the defendant used to look after her cat and come and see her in the hospital.
“We all used to thank her for being such a good friend to our mother, not knowing our trust was being abused.
“She cannot afford the care she deserves because she has been deprived of her rightful money.”
Defendant's 'considerable difficulties'
Defence barrister Adam James said Mand suffers from ‘considerable difficulties’ herself.
The court heard that Mand has suffered with depression and has a hoarding addiction.
She currently has debts of about £7,000, the court heard.
Mr James called for her to be given a suspended sentence.
Judge: This was 'serious, systematic dishonesty'
Judge Shani Barnes described Mand’s offending as ‘serious, systematic dishonesty’.
She added: “I genuinely accept everything about your difficulties: your isolation, your hoarding, and your mental health problems.
“But what I genuinely do not understand is the fact that given how isolated and alone you have always been you had two friends who were your neighbours.
“They suffered from dementia – terrible, debilitating, frightening illness – and I assume you genuinely befriended them and helped them and fed their cats.
“But your self-proclaimed addiction to buying and hoarding seems to run parallel with this really grotesque dishonesty.
“One of your victims doesn’t understand why there is no money for anything for her.”
Judge Barnes said that she had a duty to send out a message to the public that this type of offending will not be tolerated, and said that with a ‘heavy heart’ she was sending Mand to prison.
Mand was jailed for 16 months.