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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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Dalton neighbour stole to feed his drink habit

AN ELDERLY woman was left worried about falling into debt after her neighbour repeatedly stole from her.

Peter Colin Martin admitted a charge of theft to the value of £1,180 at Furness Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

The 51-year-old, of Lord Street in Dalton, admitted he had repeatedly stolen the cash between January and May from his neighbour Evelyn Cruse, who had entrusted him with her bank card.

Prosecuting, Miss Judith Knott said the 77-year-old woman, who died in July, had relied upon her neighbour for help.
She said: “Mrs Cruse came to really rely upon him.

“She did have a support worker who visited several times a week but she suffered from agoraphobia and would no longer leave the house, except for going into the garden.”

Miss Knott said Martin used to go to the shops for her neighbour, and was given her bank card and PIN number.

On 26 occasions, the defendant took money out for Mrs Cruse but then withdrew similar amounts for himself.

The victim became distressed when a direct debit for her rent failed and confided in her support worker that she was worried about getting into debt.

A couple of days before his mother died, Mrs Cruse’s son found out that Martin had been stealing from her and reported him to the police.

Defending, Miss Jane Tunn said that the defendant had stolen from Mrs Cruse because he was dependant on alcohol. She said that Martin admitted all the offences, but said he had not been bragging about stealing from her and was unaware that she was upset about her financial situation.

Chairwoman of the bench Mrs Sue Needham said that the circumstances around the case meant that an adequate punishment could not be handed out by the magistrates.

She committed Martin to crown court on December 11 for sentencing.

She said: “The victim was an elderly lady who had health problems and she was agoraphobic.

“She placed a lot of trust in you when you did her shopping.

“You took money from her over a considerable period of time and to her it was a lot of money, even if it was not to you.”

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