A “mean and thoroughly dishonest woman” who defrauded a vulnerable friend out of nearly £88,000 was jailed for five years.
Susan Elizabeth Hughes had power of attorney over her friend, who had physical and learning disabilities.
But over a course of 14 years, between 2003 to 2017, she siphoned thousands off her, Mold Crown Court heard.
Although she did some shopping and cleaning for the victim, she defrauded the cash to take “expensive holidays” and enjoy a better lifestyle, to the detriment of her friend.
At one point Hughes even hired solicitors to warn off social services who became concerned, as she abused her position of trust, but was eventually found out after an investigation.
The 66-year-old of Canterbury Drive, Prestatyn, was convicted of six counts of fraud and one of theft following a trial. She was found not guilty on one count of deception.
Her action led to a “significant decline in the physical and mental health” of the victim, the court heard, who was hospitalised after a fall. She became depressed and her care needs grew.
She had also been deprived of a better lifestyle, if she had not been “controlled and manipulated for financial gain” the prosecution said.
The defence asked the court to take into account her age, said Hughes accepted the jury’s verdict, did not seek to justify her behaviour and had been offered a job in custody, which identified “some of the positives in her character.”
Hughes had not been in trouble for many years, but had previous convictions when she was a young woman, for theft as an employee and false accounting.
Judge Rhys Rowlands said: “It was a mean and protracted course of conduct in which you repeatedly took money from a vulnerable friend’s account and acted to her detriment over several years.”
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He accepted she had provided some care for her and had gone on holiday with the victim, but “this changed over time and despite the victim having both learning and physical disabilities, you thought nothing of taking advantage of your friendship in a wholly cynical way”.
Judge Rowlands said: “Your mean and thoroughly dishonest behaviour has had a profound affect on the victim and her lifestyle over the years.”
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