A daughter left her frail 73-year-old mother with just 18 pence in the bank after stealing £34,000 from her account and blowing it on internet gambling.
Sharron Morgan, from Barnstaple, spent four years stealing the entire life savings of her terminally ill mother Barbara Brown while she was supposed to be acting as her carer, Exeter Crown Court heard.
Morgan’s own daughter reported it to the police after trying to take out money from a cashpoint a week before Christmas last year and discovering there was just 18 pence left.
All the money was lost in gambling on an online bingo site and Morgan is now receiving treatment for a gambling addiction.
She lied to her mother to cover up the disappearance of her money, even blaming a bank’s computer systems when cash ran out.
Her mother suffers from a debilitating range of illnesses and needs constant oxygen treatment.
She was so worried by her vanishing money that her weight dropped to just six-and-a-half stone.
Morgan suffers from arthritis and started gambling while taking high doses of opioid painkillers.
She is living on benefits and has been unable to repay any of the money but the Halifax has refunded £28,000 to Mrs Brown.
Morgan, aged 49, of Crosslands, Barnstaple, admitted fraud and was jailed for two years, suspended for two years, curfewed for six months and ordered to do 15 days of rehabilitation activities by Judge Timothy Rose.
He said he was able to suspend the sentence because of what he had read of physical and psychological abuse which Morgan had suffered during her life and the mental illness which resulted from it.
He told her: “What you did to your own mother was exceptionally mean and profoundly dishonest.
“Whatever your own weaknesses and personal problems, and I accept you were not in a position of strength, or that you have not had a happy or easy life, you simply stole her entire life savings.
“She had a number of very serious conditions, one of them terminal. You may have had your own problems but you were more robust than your mother.”
Brian Fitzherbert, prosecuting, said the thefts began in 2016. She transferred money to herself and used the account to gamble. As time went on, she simply took the money by moving it to her own account.
The total stolen was £34,171.50, although Morgan said she spent some of this on her mother. Most of the cash came from Mrs Brown’s pension and disability living allowance which Morgan stole as soon as it was paid in.
Richard Crabb, defending, said Morgan had experienced a difficult and unhappy life and was depressed, in severe pain from arthritis, and taking high doses of painkillers at the time she became hooked on gambling.
He said: “Her behaviour was totally out of character, unsophisticated and bound to be discovered. She turned to gambling as a source of comfort and escape, but it brought nothing but misery.”