A 53-year-old woman who stole her father-in-law’s pension money and used some of it to pay for a family holiday to Butlins in Filey has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Bradford Crown Court heard today that Diane Atkins had withdrawn £1100 from 73-year-old Edward Atkins’ Post Office account in May 2012 and after he was admitted to hospital following a fall she stole a further £4,647.15 between December 2012 and March last year.
Prosecutor Tamara Pawson said the £1100 had been used for the holiday in Filey, but no details were given in court about how the rest of the stolen money was spent.
In April last year Atkins, of Wheatley Court, Halifax, reluctantly handed over her father-in-law’s account card to his daughter Marie so she could buy him some clothing, but Miss Pawson said when she tried to withdraw the cash she realised the account was empty.
Miss Pawson said Atkins’ had been withdrawing on average about £310-a-week during Mr Atkins’ time in hospital.
The theft, which Atkins admitted last month, was reported to the police and during her interviews she said while her father-in-law was in hospital she ‘’got giddy’’ and spent the money.
The court heard that Atkins had no previous convictions and she had offered to pay compensation at the rate of £30 per month.
Her barrister Ken Green said although the amount did not sound like much it was quite a lot bearing in mind her current income.
The Recorder of Bradford Judge Roger Thomas QC noted that at such a rate it would take Atkins about 16 years to repay the whole amount.
Mr Green said Atkins was very ashamed of her offending, but Judge Thomas decided that she could only afford to pay back £500 compensation.
After reading about Atkins’ current family responsibilities the judge also decided that her nine-month prison sentence for the theft should be suspended for a year.
He described the offending as ‘’a very mean and nasty little business’’ and said Atkins had breached the trust placed in her to take proper care of her father-in-law.
The judge told Atkins she would have to do 100 hours unpaid work for the community and he warned her that if she breached the terms of the suspended sentence she would certainly go to prison.