Carer jailed for stealing almost £25k from a terminally ill elderly woman before she died
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A woman's been jailed for stealing almost £25k from a terminally ill elderly woman she was supposed to be caring for.
Cheryl Ann Stringer (16/09/1967) of Woodstock Crescent in Woodley, Stockport, was sentenced to two years imprisonment for a fraud offence today (Monday 15 November) at Manchester Crown Court (Minshull Street.)
In December 2019, Mrs. Anne Blackham, 82, who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer was moved into private accommodation from a care home in Stockport. Whilst living in private accommodation, she was provided daily care, and was receiving approximately four visits a day from care workers. Stringer was one of those care workers.
Mrs. Blackham's nephew, who held power of attorney along with her solicitor, was responsible for providing his aunty with food and medical supplies, and had access to her online back account. On 23 January this year, he logged into the account, and saw that £300 had been withdrawn in cash. He knew his aunt was bedbound, so knew that she would have been unable to make that withdrawal herself.
He went through Mrs. Blackham's bank statement, and found that there were a large number of purchases and cash withdrawals from the account, including a payment to MG Domestic in Hyde - an electrical goods wholesaler.
He also established that Mrs. Blackham's bank card was missing, and he put a stop on the account to prevent further transactions, and reported the matter to the police. In total, Mrs. Blackham's bank card had been fraudulently used to make payments and cash withdrawals totally approximately £24,840.34 between November 2020, and January 2021.
Mrs. Blackham sadly passed away on January 31 2021.
Police enquiries established that Stringer had purchased a number of appliances from MG Domestic, using a debit card with a number matching Mrs. Blackham's bank account.
CCTV recovered from Asda in Hyde, as well as B&M, also showed Stringer making cash withdrawals outside at the ATM’s and inside at the self-scan checkouts, that matched with transactions on Mrs Blackham’s account.
A search warrant was carried out on Friday 19 February 2021, at Stringer's home address, where she was arrested, and admitted purchasing a number of items using Mrs. Blackham's bank card, including a gas oven, a tumble dryer, candles, jewellery, clothing and a tablet device. It was also clear that her home had recently had new carpets and curtains fitted.
Stringer's assets were frozen, and she pleaded guilty at Stockport Magistrates Court on 18 October 2021 to an offence of fraud.
Recorder Timothy Hannam QC, upon sentencing, described this case as "an appalling case of cynical greed", stating that Stringer had stolen money from her victim at the rate of nearly £2500 a week, and that her nephew had been devastated t hat he had entrusted his aunt's care to Stringer.
Financial Investigator Mark Chesters from GMP's Stockport District said: "Stringer made the despicable decision to take advantage of an elderly, and sick woman to fund her own lifestyle, and we're pleased that she is being punished for her crime.
"However we won't stop here. While we're pleased Stringer will be spending time behind bars, her assets have been frozen pending a confiscation hearing set for 12th January 2022, when we'll seek to make sure Mrs. Blackham's family receive the compensation they deserve.
"Fighting fraud is a relentless task, but we will continue to work diligently to strip the ill-gotten gains from criminals and I'd like to thank the public for continuing to support our work by reporting fraud, and sharing information. If you see something, or suspect something is wrong, tell us, and we can do something about it."
Anyone with information can contact police via LiveChat on our website, www.gmp.police.uk, call 101 or 999 in an emergency, or call the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.