Wisbech woman receives a suspended sentence for stealing cash from a vulnerable family.
Wisbech woman receives a suspended sentence for stealing cash from a vulnerable family.

A woman who admitted stealing thousands of pounds from a vulnerable family has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

Carolyn Rayner, 47, defrauded her victim and their mother out of a total of £6,950 under the guise of assisting them with their finances.

In 2013 the victim’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and it fell to the victim to look after her affairs, including making monthly care home payments. The victim, who was unable to read or write, struggled with this and Rayner, an acquaintance of their wider family, offered to help.

She offered to assist the victim by setting up a direct debit from her bank account to pay the care bills. She then met with the victim on a regular basis and used the victim’s mother’s bank card to withdraw money to reimburse the money the she was paying through the direct debit.

On one occasion Rayner told the victim they owed more money for the care home and asked for £500 which the victim withdrew from their own bank account.

In December 2013 the victim went to a cash machine to withdraw some cash to buy the mother some new boots and found the account was almost empty.

The victim asked their uncle for help in working out why the balance was so low and discovered between May and December that year a total of £6,450 had been withdrawn.

All the while, the victim believed Rayner, of Hazel Gardens in Wisbech, was paying the care bills on their behalf, however this was not the case. The victim’s uncle contacted the care provider who was told none of the care bills had been paid since May and there was an outstanding balance of £3,000.

Rayner in a voluntary interview denied any wrongdoing and blamed the victim for the theft, however she was later charged with two counts of theft.

She was due to go to on 5 February but changed her plea and admitted two counts of theft.

Charges of witness intimidation and perverting the course of justice will lie on file.

On Thursday (1) she appeared at Cambridge Crown Court and was sentenced to eight months in prison for each offence, to run concurrently, suspended for two years. The case will be subject of a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing.

Detective Constable Emma Beart, from the Fraud and Cyber Investigation Unit (FCIU), said: “The victim in this case was exceptionally vulnerable at the time, their mother had just gone into residential care and they were struggling to deal with her financial affairs. What Rayner did was a complete breach of the trust they placed in her.”

The victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “I would like to thank the police for all their support in getting this case to court. During this investigation both my mother and aunt died and I feel very sad that the last thing we were talking about was what the defendant had done.

“I have found it hard not to blame myself for being so trusting and feel that I let my mum down, I have to remind myself that it was Carolyn who did wrong, not me. I still can’t sleep well because of this and don’t understand why Carolyn did this to me, I thought she was a friend.”

For information and advice about fraud, visit Action Fraud’s website here https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/a-z_of_fraud.