Sunderland woman stole almost £50,000 from her 88-year-old uncle from South Shields

A niece who stole almost £50,000 from an 88-year-old uncle she was meant to be helping has been warned she faces jail.

Lillian Handysides, who was in the widower's will, pocketed £48,904 belonging to the retired shipyard worker, to ensure there was little left for the other beneficiaries.

At the time of the offences she had been trusted with the pensioner's finances to give him assistance as he had "difficulty getting about".

But instead of paying bills and buying things he needed, Handysides "used it as her own".

Lillian Handysides

The 56-year-old, formerly of Bodiam Road, Sunderland, denied four charges of theft and claimed the cash had been given to her as a "gift".

After a trial at Newcastle Crown Court, jurors found her guilty of three of the offences.

She was cleared of one charge in relation to a further £600.

Mr Recorder Jeremy Barnett said Handysides will be sentenced next month and warned her she faces jail.

Lillian Handysides

During a trial the victim gave evidence, via television link, from his armchair at his home in South Shields.

He told jurors: "She was taking money off me, not helping me out. It was supposed to be saved up in the bank for such time I passed away."

The pensioner told the court he has now changed his will and added: "I've got no trust in her now for what she's done."

The court heard the pensioner had over £20,000 from an inheritance in his bank and received another £20,000 from a bond, on top of his own money.

Prosecutor Ian Cook said the cash from the bond was transferred into Handysides account "for safe keeping".

It was after a family holiday in Scotland, where the victim took ill and was admitted to hospital, that he became "suspicious" about the intentions of his niece.

He made inquiries with his bank and found out one of his accounts had been closed and the £25,000 balance transferred to another account, under Handysides' control.

Mr Cook told jurors: "She had taken control of the money and used it as her own."