A trusted “carer” and an inexperienced builder who exploited a wealthy stroke victim have been given suspended prison sentences following a lengthy investigation.
Judge Colin Burn said greed had got the better of 52-year-old Brighouse woman Sharon Hughes and Miles Ogden, 25, from Bradford, after hearing how the pair took advantage of the vulnerable 56-year-old complainant who also suffered from learning difficulties.
Bradford Crown Court heard on Monday how Hughes originally worked as a carer for the woman’s mother in the south of England, but also began assisting the complainant after she suffered a stroke in 2014.
Prosecutor James Lake said when the victim’s mother died in 2015 she inherited almost £600,000 and already had about £150,000 in her own bank account.
He told the court how Hughes bought a new Suzuki car using money from the complainant and eventually they both moved from London up to Yorkshire and bought a house in Elland for just over £100,000.
Mr Lake said Hughes lied about where the money had come from to buy the property and she subsequently used more money from the complainant when that house was sold and she moved into a new home in Ascot Grove, Brighouse.
An investigation was launched after a complaint was made about Hughes exploiting the complainant and Mr Lake said she told a number of lies during her interview.
The court heard that Hughes’ fraud against the complainant had totalled £114,000 and in a victim impact statement the woman said she thought as friends they had been paying 50-50.
“I never intended to pay for everything,” she said.
“I never intended my mum’s money to go to her.”
During the inquiry it emerged that the complainant had also been taken advantage of by builder Miles Ogden who had overcharged her for work at her home to the tune of £31,500.
Mr Lake said Ogden, of Denbrook Walk, “befriended” the woman and in July 2017 Hughes took her to the bank where she paid £27,000 into his account.
He said it was thought that the work related to the moving of a garage and the construction of a summer house at the complainant’s own home in Brighouse.
Hughes was today sentenced to 24 months in jail, suspended for two years, after she admitted a fraud charge.
The court heard that she is due to sell her Brighouse property and will use the money to pay compensation of £114,000 to the complainant.
Under the suspended sentence order she will have to do 240 hours unpaid work and comply with a 25-day rehabilitation activity requirement.
Ogden, whose lawyer described him as inexperienced and naive at the time of his offending in 2017, admitted a charge of engaging in a misleading commercial practice.
He was sentenced to five months in prison, suspended for a year, and he must also do 160 hours unpaid work.
Ogden will also be paying back just over £12,500 in compensation to his victim.
Passing sentence on the pair Judge Burn said:”In both your cases your offending was driven by a failure to resist the urge to profit from (the complainant).
“The fact is that she did have clearly some difficulties and I’m afraid, side by side with that, she had a significant amount of wealth.
“And so, in other words, greed really did get the better of you in one way or another.”
He described the relationship between Hughes and the complainant as a complex one and said he was not sentencing her on the basis that she had targeted her victim.
“I accept you are now very remorseful about it, but the reality is you fall to be sentenced for exploiting her,” the judge told Hughes.
Hughes’ barrister Ken Green said she had no previous convictions and had been involved care work for virtually all her life.
“You can imagine the shame and embarrassment that she has felt for many years facing up to this case,” he said.
“The offences go back to 2016 and earlier.”
He said the victim would be reimbursed in full for her loss.