Page last updated at 12:44 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 13:44 UK

Carer stole for cruises and cars

Christine Lodwick
Lodwick was able to move large sums of money through internet banking

A family carer has been jailed for two years after admitting helping herself to a sick aunt's savings account to pay for cars and cruises.

Christine Lodwick pleaded guilty to stealing £49,000 but had siphoned off over £200,000, a judge was told.

It funded three Mediterranean cruises and down payments of more than £23,000 on a Mercedes C180K and a Range Rover.

The 58-year-old from Cwmgwili in Carmarthenshire pleaded guilty to 10 counts of theft at Swansea Crown Court.

She had originally faced a total of 31 charges but the prosecution discontinued 21 after accepting her guilty pleas.

Her husband Thomas Lodwick, aged 63, had three allegations of money laundering against him withdrawn at the same earlier hearing.

The amount stolen totalled £49,741 over more than a year from February 2006, but the prosecution made it clear that it believed she had benefited to a much greater degree.

It has started confiscation proceedings against her for an expected higher amount despite the fact that she intends to pay back all £49,741.

Kevin Riorden, prosecuting, said Lodwick had taken power of attorney for her aunt Elizabeth Davies, 83, in April 2005 when injury forced her to go into a nursing home.

The breach of trust was immense
Judge Christopher Morton

A year later she also took power of attorney for her aunt's daughter Patricia Davies, 63, who suffered from learning difficulties and could not cope alone.

Mr Riorden said the move gave her access to her widowed aunt's Lloyds TSB savings account which was £250,000 in credit.

She then registered for internet banking and was able to move large sums from the account into her aunt's current account, for which she had been issued with a bank card.

"The main plank of the prosecution case is that the defendant abused her trust," Mr Riorden said.

He said she then used the cash "to fund a lifestyle for her and her family which was way beyond her legitimate income".

He said that over a 16-month period from February 2006, £207,000 had been spent or withdrawn from her aunt's account.

In mitigation barrister John Hipkin said the total amount to be confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act was in dispute.

He said Patricia Davies had been taken along on the cruises.

Judge Christopher Morton told Lodwick: "The offences were out of character but they are manifestly so serious it has to be immediate prison.

"Your aunt was elderly and in a residential home but she wished to provide security for her own daughter. The breach of trust was immense.

"I accept you took your victim's daughter along (on the cruises) but that seems to have been some sort of justification. I also accept that you did provide care and that prison will affect others."

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