A WOMAN who plundered more than £150,000 from her vulnerable parents has been jailed for three years.
Kate Morton systematically stole the cash, which she squandered on her gambling habit, as she pretended to help with their finances.
The 32-year-old worked her way through a compensation pay out her dad got for a car accident which left him brain damaged and an inheritance her mother received.
Now they have been left without any savings which could be used for care fees as her mum is now suffering dementia.
Tessa Hingston, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court how the offences took place over a four-and-a-half year period.
She said Morton’s dad, John Wilmot, suffered a brain injury in a crash in 1999 and received a substantial payout as he could no longer work. His wife Jacqueline obtained power of attorney as his memory was poor, but from 2008 she suffered a brain bleed and then dementia.
She then had no capacity to deal with the family finances and at one point Morton and her dad looked into her getting power of attorney to help them with their money.
Though that never formally took place, from January 2008 the mother-of-four started to help herself to their money. As well as transferring funds electronically to her own account she also made cash machine withdrawals.
She redirected their bank statements to her address to cover her tracks and ‘looked after’ her mum’s passport and bank cards.
She not only took money from her father’s and their joint Halifax accounts she knew he had placed large sums in his wife’s Lloyds accounts for tax purposes.
In late 2011 and early 2012 Mrs Wilmot received an inheritance which Morton also set about stealing before she was caught later that year.
“She systematically removed a total, according to the counts, of £154,840.34p,” Miss Hingston said.
“She denied the offence until fairly late in the day. That is one of the features which seem to have been most painful to her father.
“He said in some ways he is glad his wife isn’t fully aware what is going on as it would have broken her heart.”
In a victim impact statement Mr Wilmot said they were on the state pension and though his wife’s dementia had deteriorated they can’t contribute to her care.
“If we were able to pay more than £7 a week then she could have more carers and adaptations in the home. It is devastating to think our own daughter stole from us in this way over a prolonged period of time.”
Morton, of Trinity Close, Park South, pleaded guilty to six counts of theft when she appeared at Swindon Crown Court.
Con Fernandes, defending, said she was now full of remorse for what she had done which is out of character with the rest of her life.
“She had a really terrible gambling addiction and the thieving from her parents was to finance that.”
He said two of her children had been taken into care and two had gone to live with their father, her partner has left her and she has lost her parents.
Judge Douglas Field said: “Not only has your father realised that his own daughter stole this very large amount of money it means the inheritance your mother got which was earmarked for their future is greatly diminished. This is a very serious breach of trust.”