Published: 13:37, 14 September 2021
| Updated: 10:52, 15 September 2021
A pensioner was defrauded of his £50,000 life savings but died before the thief could be brought to justice.
George Goddon, 80, trusted the cleaner who looked after his home – but Jennifer Richards cleaned out his bank account as well.
Now the divorced mum-of-two has been sent to prison for two years and three months for her crime, done to feed her gambling addiction.
Maidstone Crown Court heard how Richards took all his money with five months, leaving him with an overdraft.
Sadly, the pensioner, who lived in Sittingbourne, died two years ago before Richards could be tried and sentenced.
Richards, 49, had denied fraud by false representation and theft in respect of a total of £50,865 between October 2017 and February 2018.
She told the jury that the money had been a gift from Mr Goddon but they rejected her claim and found her guilty.
'You have shown no remorse, the money appears to have been spent on gambling and there is no realistic prospect of any of it being recovered.'
They heard how the money was stolen in the form of cashpoint withdrawals, bank transfers and purported loans.
The judge, Recorder Clive Broe, told told her that she had targeted a vulnerable man who not only employed her but regarded her as a friend.
"Over the course of a few months, you gained access to his bank accounts which you emptied," he said.
"The matter only came to light when he was unable to pay his credit card bills.
"These offences represent a breach of trust, and unfortunately Mr Goddon died without knowing the outcome of this case.
"You have shown no remorse, the money appears to have been spent on gambling and there is no realistic prospect of any of it being recovered."
The court heard Richards, of Dixon Court, Sittingbourne, had not worked as a cleaner since April 2018 and now lived on benefits in housing association accommodation, with no savings or assets.
Nicholas Jones, defending, said her gambling addiction had been beyond her financial means.
"There were multiple transactions a day and well in excess of her ability to fund them.
"It's difficult not to come to the conclusion that that must have played a role in what was out of character behaviour," he told the court.
'She preyed on his kindness and vulnerability but continued to deny her crimes resulting in a trial.'
It is believed the bank eventually reimbursed Mr Goddon.
Richards, who suffers from arthritis and is awaiting knee replacement surgery, lives with her children, aged 15 and 18.
Commenting on the sentencing, DC Madeline Brackley said: "Richards was entrusted into the victim’s home but she abused that trust in a despicable way.
"This was a planned and meticulous theft where she stole from him over several months and on several occasions. She preyed on his kindness and vulnerability but continued to deny her crimes resulting in a trial.
"I’m pleased she has received a custodial sentence."