Hebburn aunt stole niece's £15,000 inheritance as 'revenge' after family fall-out
A childminder stole thousands of pounds of inheritance from her niece as ‘revenge’ after a family fall out.
Leigh Brown was an executor of Mary Thompson's will after she died in 2005 and should have held more than £22,300 in trust for Amy Thompson for when she turned 21.
But Newcastle Crown Court heard when Miss Thompson reached the milestone age in 2018, she was told the money she was due from her late grandmother's estate was ‘not available’.Brown, who was also a beneficiary, along with her two daughters, was questioned by the police and admitted she had spent Miss Thompson's share.Christopher Morrison, prosecuting, told the court Brown knew she was not entitled to Miss Thompson's money and ‘did the very opposite’ of what she was supposed to.Prosecutors claim she spent the entire £22,371 but Brown, of Clyde Avenue, Hebburn, admitted theft of around £15,000.
The court heard she has since paid £12,000 back.
Judge Edward Bindloss said Brown had ‘skewed moral thinking’ about the money Miss Thompson was entitled to.Judge Bindloss said Brown had formed an animosity towards her brother, who is Miss Thompson's father, and added: "Somehow the spending of the money was some sort of revenge action."
But the judge added that the 51-year-old, who is an Ofsted-registered childminder, has never been in trouble before, produced ‘impressive’ character references and has been described as a ‘hard-working, loyal and compassionate person’.Judge Bindloss told her: "I accept his was a totally out of character incident."
Brown was sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with 80 hours unpaid work.
The court heard Miss Thompson, a degree student, had planned to buy a car with her inheritance.
She said in a victim statement: " I can't believe someone would want to do that to their own relation.
"I have barely known her through my life, there's no reason to have animosity towards me."
Christopher Knox, defending, said Brown is a "sensible, intelligent woman, held in high esteem, particularly by those whose children she cares for".
Mr Knox said Brown's family had a "whip-round" to help her pay some of the money back.
He added: "She is deeply embarrassed, very remorseful for it".