Carer stole £8,000 from neighbour, 91, to pay debt

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A NEIGHBOUR who befriended a housebound 91-year-old woman went on to steal more than £8,000 from her to pay off personal debts including mobile phone and utility bills and her mortgage.

Sarah Bolsover, aged 41, who carried out the thefts after gaining access to the elderly woman’s bank details, was jailed for four months by the Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Alan Goldsack, who described her offending as the “grossest breach of trust”.

The mother-of-two, of Wellcarr Road, Woodseats, went into Olive Roberts’ bank account after the pensioner had initially agreed to loan her cash to pay off a number of debts, Sheffield Crown Court was told.

Bolsover and her mother had become extremely friendly with Mrs Roberts, who had agoraphobia, a fear of open spaces. Bolsover’s mother began to act as her carer and she took over when her mother fell ill, receiving a carers’ allowance for two months.

On running into financial problems, Bolsover persuaded the old lady to hand over her bank details to pay a bill. When bank statements stopped arriving at her home, Mrs Roberts asked her brother-in-law to check what was going on. It emerged that £8,238 had been removed from her bank account.

Bolsover, who admitted theft, told police she had every intention of repaying the money. The court was told that the family had developed “significant” financial arrears when her husband lost his job in the building trade. The thefts ended when her husband got another job, money started coming in again and her conscience got the better of her.

She had made no attempt to hide what she had done and her family had since offered to repay the stolen money.

The judge said: “We have more and more elderly people living alone who often rely on neighbours or friends to help them with their financial affairs. Those who breach that trust in the case of someone of this age must expect to go to prison if they are caught.”