Fraudster is spared jail

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A DEBT-ridden woman who cashed shares left in a will by the previous occupant of her Eckington home has been spared jail.

Andrew Dixon asked management company Equiniti to forward correspondence to his address after his father Robert died three years ago.

A cheque was sent to the late Mr Dixon’s address and occupant Lynne Slater returned it to Equiniti, stating that she had no contact information for Mr Dixon’s family.

But she continued to receive correspondence about the Centrica and BG Group shares and succumbed to temptation, Chesterfield magistrates heard.

Slater, aged 47, wrote to the company in the guise of Andrew Dixon, asking for shares to be gifted to his father’s former carer.

Becky Mahon, prosecuting, said a £3,269 BG Group cheque was cashed via the carer, who was unaware Slater was using her to commit fraud. Slater then attempted to cash in remaining shares worth £813.

“She returned correspondence at first but then clearly had a change of heart. She said she was going through bankruptcy,” said Ms Mahon, adding that the carer received no financial benefit from the matter.

Slater, of Hazel Road, Eckington, admitted two charges of fraud on dates in April and October of last year. She had no previous convictions.

Magistrates had warned she could be locked up but they instead decided to imposed a one-year probation supervision order. She must pay £3269 compensation to Equiniti.

“It was a rented property and correspondence about the shares was sent there. She sent the mail back to the company initially,” said John Wilford, defending Slater.

“She and her husband had debts of around £70,000 and she had borrowed £2,000 from a loan shark and needed to pay him off. She deeply regrets it and feels ashamed.”

Mr Wilford added that Slater suffered from epilepsy and was awaiting brain scans.