by Paul Hooper
A Cliftonville drug addict with convictions for prostitution has been freed for Christmas – despite draining her sick grandmother's bank account to feed her habit.
Carly Stafford, 23, had been given a bank card from trusting granny Anne Wright to do the shopping.
Instead, she took £1,500 in cash Mrs Wright's account – every penny the 74-year-old had in the bank.
A judge at Canterbury Crown Court told Stafford she had given her vulnerable grandmother "a kick in the teeth" by her mean theft.
But although Stafford, of Stanley Road, was given a jail sentence, she was allowed out immediately because she had been in prison awaiting her hearing.
The judge Recorder David Moran told her: "You stole from your grandmother, who had given you her bank card, PIN number and a grocery list to go shopping with. You promptly went into town and drained her account.
"These offences reflect a long period of devious premeditated criminal activity aimed at a particularly vulnerable person, who had shown a lot of interest and care and trust in you."
Stafford, who admitted two theft charges involving £2,100, had been living with her grandma after being released from a previous jail sentence in 2010.
Prosecutor Donna East told how the mother-of-two had also stolen another £600 from Mrs Wright's account by secretly using her bank card.
She said: "In February, Mrs Wright was feeling very well, suffering badly from arthritis, and told her granddaughter she wouldn't be going shopping that day.
"you took money from someone who was struggling financially to support both of you. you have absolutely no respect either for yourself or those around you..." – judge recorder david moran
"Stafford then offered to do the shopping and, perhaps foolishly in the circumstances, Mrs Wright gave her the bank card and PIN number and told her to buy only what was on the shopping list."
Stafford vanished for five hours, returning with "a large number of bags", which triggered her grandmother's suspicions.
"Mrs Wright checked her bank account and discovered it had been cleared out," added Mrs East. "There was nothing left."
Stafford later claimed she couldn't remember what had happened "due to her drug misuse".
Defence barrister Wendy Hewitt said the pre-sentence probation report on Stafford "paints a picture that is unmitigatingly bleak".
"But she is a young lady with a troubled background," Mrs Hewitt said. "She has made many court appearances over the past decade, largely for prostitution."
The judge told Stafford: "You chose to repay your grandmother for taking you in by, on numerous occasions, helping yourself to her money in order to finance your drug habit.
"You took money from someone who was struggling financially to support both of you.
"You have absolutely no respect either for yourself or those around you.
"This was a serious breach of trust and a considerable kick in the teeth to someone who appears to be one of the only people in this world at the moment who seems to care very much about you."
Stafford was jailed for four weeks but as she had been remanded in custody awaiting sentence, she was freed in time for Christmas.