An only son has been jailed for stealing £52,000 in life savings of his 89-year-old mother.
James Napper, 55, emptied a joint account he held with his mother in less than a year.
The money was supposed to pay for her nursing home fees and losing it left her fearful of being evicted, Durham Crown Court heard.
Despite leaving her all but penniless, Elizabeth Napper said she still loved her son although she could never forgive him.
Napper, of Station Road, Seaham, admitted theft of £52,136 between September, 2014, and October, 2015.
Paul Abrahams, prosecuting. said: “Mrs Napper sold her house when infirmity forced her to move into a nursing home in Seaham. With her consent, the money was put into a joint Barclays account operated by herself and her son.
“She was unable to visit the bank to deal with her affairs, so her son held the account’s cheque book and cash card. The house sold for £59,000, and it was Mrs Napper’s plan to use the money to pay for her care home fees.”
He added: “With her other money, the account had £63,000 in it in September 2014, but there was only £851 left a year later. Social services started an inquiry when it became apparent the fees were not being paid.”
“More than £41,000 had been taken by her son from cash machines and he spent another £10,000 on internet and point of sale payments.”
In a victim impact statement, Mrs Napper said: “I feel dreadful to think my son could do this to me. James is my only son and I’ve always given him what he wants.
“He used to come to see me every day, but I’ve not seen him since this happened which makes me feel lonely.”
Laurie Scott, defending, said: “Mr Napper was a man of previous good character who worked for 40 years. He became ill and when his sick pay ran out, he began dipping into his mother’s money to maintain his lifestyle.
“He recognises his behaviour is disgraceful, and he is thoroughly ashamed of it.
“Mr Napper is now able to work again and his employers - who know about this case - have told him his old job is still open.
“If allowed to go back to work, he could begin putting money back into the account at the rate of £500 a month.”
Judge Deborah Sherwin jailed Napper for two years.
The judge said: “I understand Mrs Napper still loves her son, and does not want him to be sent to prison.
“But I also have a wider public duty to perform.
“This is the ultimate in mean offending, made worse by the victim tormenting herself over it.
“The message must go out that stealing significant sums of money from vulnerable elderly relatives will not be condoned.”
The court heard Mrs Napper’s nursing home fees are now being paid by the local authority.