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Reading Magistrates' Court: Carer stole thousands from vulnerable, elderly victim

Lambourn woman 'will face shame in village' after fleecing 85-year-old 'friend'

A CARER who fleeced a “particularly vulnerable” elderly victim will have to live with the shame in her village, a court heard.

Mother-of-four Velda Little preyed on victim Sylvia Sturgess, posing as a trusted friend while raiding her bank account.

Sadly her victim died before she was able to see justice done, Reading magistrates were told on Thursday.

Megan Tapley, prosecuting, said: “The victim in this case was aged 85, disabled and particularly vulnerable.

“She relied on friends for day-to-day activities and carers came in three times a day.”

Sixty-six-year-old Mrs Little, who lives at The Park, Lambourn, “had access to her home via a key and had previously helped to care for Mrs Sturgess”.

Ms Tapley said Mrs Sturgess kept her bank cards in her purse in the living room.

One day, the court heard, a relative with power of attorney, Elizabeth Brosnan, was helping Mrs Sturgess with her bank account when they discovered numerous, unauthorised cash withdrawals.

Ms Tapley said: “It amounted to £5,600 in total. For the purposes of this case, we’re attributing a loss of £2,000 to the defendant.

“There were various withdrawals from an ATM machine.”

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mrs Sturgess had said: “It’s left me feeling upset; I could easily cry.”

She went on to say she felt unable to trust others as a result of Mrs Little’s actions and felt wary of leaving her possessions unguarded.

Ms Tapley said: “We say there is high culpability given the victim’s vulnerability.

“There was deliberate targetting, due to that vulnerability.

“It had a serious impact.”

Mrs Little showed no emotion as her victim’s statement was read out.

At a previous hearing she admitted four charges of fraud by making a false representation in order to steal money.

All the offences were said to have been committed on various dates in March 2019.

Belinda Knight, defending, pointed out that her client had her own health issues which, she said, had rendered her unable to work for the past 40 years.

Mrs Little was, she added, a “mother of four with 19 grandchildren and eight great-grandhchildren.”

Ms Knight said Mrs Little had no previous convictions and suggested a reason she had been “propelled into the criminal justice system” at her time of life: “One of her four children was facing eviction; as a result of this, they weren’t evicted.

“It doesn’t justify what happened, but it’s background.”

Ms Knight went on: “I’m grateful to [the prosecution] for claiming only £2,000 in compensation.”

She concluded: “She lives in the small community of Lambourn – and it is a community where she has lived for the past 47 years.

“There’s a public shaming element she has yet to face.”

Fortunately, said Ms Knight, “no one has brought it up with her”.

She added: “I’m guessing there’s no reporter in court?”

Told by magistrates that the Newbury Weekly News was, indeed, present, Ms Knight replied: “In light of that, I’m not going to say anything further.”

Even though Mrs Little is reportedly housebound, magistrates imposed a six-week curfew from noon to 6pm.

In addition, Mrs Little was made subject to a 12-month community order and rehabilitation activity requirement “to help you understand the circumstances of your offending”.

Mrs Little was also ordered to pay £85 costs, plus a statutory victim services surcharge of £85.

Finally, she was ordered to pay £2,000 in compensation.

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