Woman stole £10k from ‘worried’ ill uncle


- Credit: Archant

A CLEVEDON woman faked her sick 83-year-old uncle’s signature to steal more than £10,000 from him over four months.

Jessica Dunne, aged 31, faces jail after pleading guilty to one count of fraud by false representation, at North Somerset Courthouse in St Georges.

She pinched cheques from her elderly uncle Eric Appleton in a bid to pay off debts she had racked up.

Mr Appleton was ‘worried’ after noticing thousands of pounds had gone missing from his Lloyds bank account and angry when he found out his niece was behind the scam.

Jane Cooper, prosecuting, said: “In March, she visited her 83-year-old relative who lives with his disabled son, and she removed a number of cheques from his chequebook and left it in his room so he didn’t know they were gone.

“She made the cheques out to her partner James Westcott, but signed them as Mr Appleton.”

Ms Cooper said Mr Westcott did not know about the deceit and had been told by Dunne that her uncle had given the money to them.

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Five cheques, totalling £10,700, were cashed between March and July 2014.

Mr Appleton – who requires care at home due to his ill health – lives with his son, who suffers from a heart condition.

He called Action Fraud when he noticed the money had been taken and Lloyds has since repaid him what he lost.

In a statement read in court, Mr Appleton said: “I didn’t give Jessica permission to take my cheques, cash them or give them to someone else.

“I was worried to start with. Now I’m really angry as I have known her since she was a little girl.”

The court was told that Dunne, of Cherry Hay, needed the money after racking up legal costs fighting a custody battle.

She then took a £2,000 loan from a man she knew as ‘Cassius’ who promised an interest rate of £300 per month, before changing his mind to £250 per week afterwards. When Dunne complained, ‘Cassius’ told her he knew where she lived if she called the police.

Her uncle’s money was used to try to pay off these debts, magistrates were told on January 2.

Chris Barke, chair of the bench, decided he had ‘insufficient powers’ to sentence Dunne.

She will appear for sentencing at Bristol Crown Court later this month.