A son who spent over £260,000 in compensation cash belonging to his brain-damaged mother has been put behind bars.
Anne Cox was paid the money after an assault in 2005, when she was pushed down some stairs and suffered an aneurysm which left her with "no motor function whatsoever".
After the attack, the pensioner needed round-the-clock care in a nursing home and is unable to speak or even eat.
In 2012 she was paid £262,500 from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and her trusted son Michael Dixon was named by the Court of Protection as her deputy, with control of her financial affairs.
The cash was meant to fund her future needs and care.
Newcastle Crown Court heard, over the next four years, 47-year-old Dixon, who worked with the Territorial Army, spent the money as if it were his own.
He also diverted her pension and disability benefits into his own account but it is accepted the bulk of that money was actually used on his mum.
Prosecutor Tony Cornberg said: "The spending of the compensation award began on the very day it was paid in."
Mr Cornberg said Dixon spent £41,000 within the first six weeks and added: "Over the first five months a total of £116,000 of her money was spent on purchases.
"During that same period, £72,000 in cash was withdrawn and the money is unaccounted for."
The court heard Dixon was supposed to sent a yearly report to the Office of Public Guardians to detail how the money was being spent on his mum but did not send even one in the four years he was in the trusted position.
Mr Cornberg added: "The Crown say he used the money for his own purpose, essentially treating it as his own as he did so, either to spend or divide between family members."
Dixon, of Devon Road, Hebburn, admitted four offences of fraud.
Judge Sarah Mallett sentenced him to three-and-a-half years behind bars.
The judge told him: "That money was intended to be put towards her general welfare and well-being but also to fund the 24 hour care she required.
"You treated that money as your own really."
Gavin Doig, defending, said Dixon sees his mother daily and is "devoted" to her.
Mr Doig said Dixon, who had been paying the money back, did not set out deliberately to defraud anyone.
He added: "He would much prefer if his mother was in good health, was in a position to manage her own finances.
"His actions were criminal but not cold blooded. He has not callously sought to benefit from his mother's illness."