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Woman befriended man in his 80s with dementia and stole £9,500

PUBLISHED: 15:35 26 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:05 26 January 2018

Judge Stephen Holt  Photo: Steve Adams

Judge Stephen Holt Photo: Steve Adams

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015

A judge has spoken out about the growing number of cases of thefts from vulnerable older people after hearing how a woman stole more than £9,000 from an elderly Norwich pensioner she befriended.

Norwich Crown Court. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNorwich Crown Court. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Sonja Sharp had known the man for many years and used to regularly help him with household tasks, but when he developed dementia and trusted her to help manage his affairs, she had taken cash from him, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Sharp, 53, claimed the pensioner, who is in his 80s, insisted on giving her money but the court heard he lacked the mental capacity to make such decisions.

Sharp, of Bawburgh Road, Easton, admitted theft of £9,539 between February 2016 and January 2017.

The court heard Sharp was now planning to borrow the cash to pay the victim back.

Judge Stephen Holt told Sharp that the courts were now seeing more cases of this kind and said she was meant to be a trusted friend of the victim and his late wife.

He said: “He lacked the capacity to deal with his financial affairs and he was moved to a care home. Over a 12-month period you have taken these sums of money from him. He had trusted you to look after his money.”

Judge Holt imposed an eight-month jail sentence suspended for two years and told Sharp: “The courts time and time again see people in your position taking advantage of elderly people who have lost the capacity to manage their own affairs by helping themselves to their money.”

However he accepted she had shown remorse by pleading guilty and had not spent the cash on any lavish lifestyle but just day to day living.

Andrew Oliver, for Sharp, said she was remorseful: “She is desperately sorry it happened.”

He said she was planning to borrow the cash from her father to pay the victim back.

He said that she had done a lot to help the victim and used to visit him in the care home while continuing to clean his house and do other tasks.

Mr Oliver said he used to give her cash and say she should keep some money for herself.

He said: “ She was not leading a lavish lifestyle in any way.”

Oliver said that Sharp was of previous good character and said she had never tried to blame anyone else for the thefts.

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