A COUNTY Durham man has been jailed after stealing more than £52,000 from his elderly mother, leaving her in fear of being turned out of her care home.

James Napper, from Seaham, was sentenced to two years in prison after admitting to stealing a large proportion of the money his mother had gained after selling her home to pay for her care.

Durham Crown Court heard the 89-year-old had sold her home in September 2014 and planned to use the money to pay for her care home and give her a little spending money.

But over a period of around a year, between September 2014 and October 2015, recently unemployed Napper, who was trusted to have bank cards and the PIN for his mother’s account, made withdrawals to maintain his lifestyle.

The court heard that just over £41,400 was withdrawn from ATMs, while around £10,730 was spent through internet card sales – leaving just £851 in the account.

Meanwhile, the care home said during the period just £362 was given to the victim.

Reading the woman’s victim statement, Paul Abrahams, prosecuting, said: “I’ve always been as green as grass and I feel very bitter because of what he has done.

“I’ve always given Jim everything he wanted and I would have helped him if he came to me.

“I was devastated and so upset.”

She added she felt she did not have enough money to take part in activities at her home and was fearful of being made to leave.

Laurie Scott, mitigating, told the court that 55-year-old Napper, of Station Road, had worked in the heavy automotive industry for 40 years but from spring 2014 was unable to work because of a foot problem.

She said: “His sickness pay ran out and in September 2014 his finances got the better of him and he began to dip into his mother’s bank account.

She added: “Unfortunately over the 12 month period while he was unemployed he used money from his mother’s bank account to maintain the lifestyle he had when working.

“He is deeply ashamed and accepts his mother should not have had to pay for his lifestyle. He is heartbroken about the distress he has caused her.”

Despite a plea from the victim that Napper should not go to prison, Judge Deborah Sherwin gave him a two year sentence.

She said: “I have a greater duty to the public at large and it’s important the message goes out to people that they can’t get greedy with their parent’s money.

“It is not her doing that her son is starting a prison sentence today. It is appalling she is in this position.”