A woman who has admitted stealing from her grandmother disputes the amount she is said to have taken.

Ashleigh Gardner admitted a charge of fraud by false representation when she appeared before magistrates recently.

It is alleged she intercepted her grandmother’s mail to enable her to make withdrawals for her bank account for her own purposes.

The case was sent by the magistrates to be sentenced at Durham Crown Court due to the limited powers of the lower court.

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On her appearance at the crown court, Dr Chris Wood, for the prosecution, told the hearing that the fraud went on for over a year, but Gardner’s basis of plea was not accepted by the Crown.

Dr Wood said it was asserted in her basis of plea that Gardner took approximately £4,000 to £5,000 from her grandmother.

But Dr Wood said that figure was, “nowhere near to what the Crown says she took, and it would make a difference in the sentencing guidelines”.

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Judge James Adkin said having read the case notes, it appeared that the defendant told police, in interview, it could be upwards of £10,000, possibly up to £12,000, on the basis of her spending.

The judge asked Gardner’s counsel, Dan Cordey, if she was aware how that might affect her (the defendant’s) credit for tending a guilty plea, if she now disputes the alleged amount taken.

“Following a Newton hearing (trial of issue) she would lose her credit for her guilty plea and require her grandmother to have to give evidence.”

Mr Cordey said: “I have taken specific instructions and she stands by her basis of plea.”

Judge Adkin allowed Mr Cordey further time to speak to his client.

Following that brief consultation, Mr Cordey told the court: “I have spoken again to Miss Gardner and told her she is entitled to one-third credit off sentence for her plea and she understands the risk to that credit.

“I have advised her that her grandmother would be called as a witness.

“Her instructions are that she didn’t want to admit something she didn’t do.

“She says she did not take the full amount.”

Judge Adkin, therefore, adjourned for a Newton hearing to be fixed, of up to two hours, which all parties can attend at the court, on October 19.

He told Gardner: “You have admitted some dishonesty and stealing post belonging to your grandmother and so we have to have a Newton-style hearing where a lawyer will cross-examine your grandmother suggesting she’s not telling the truth.

“If you lose, that that will demonstrate a complete lack of remorse.

“You have had legal advice and it’s your right to have that hearing.”

He warned Gardner that should she fail to attend the hearing on October 19, a bench warrant would be issued for her arrest.

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“Whatever the outcome of the hearing, and I’m not binding the judge’s hand, all sentencing options will remain open.”

He bailed Gardner, of High Street, Stanley, to return for the October 19 trial of issue.

But he said her bail was now granted subject to the condition that she is not to contact any prosecution witness, including her grandmother.