A woman who stole thousands of pounds her sick uncle was saving for his own funeral has been ordered to pay back the money after she walked free from court.

Samantha Hill used her uncle’s bank card numerous times over a seven-month period and even continued to steal from him after she had been warned by police about her behaviour.

The 44-year-old had returned some of the money to his bank account before the full extent of her dishonesty had come to light.

Teesside Crown Court heard how she was confronted about using her uncle’s card by his son but the ill pensioner asked the police not to prosecute her.

Cainan Lonsdale, prosecuting, said Hill did have permission to use the man’s bank card to spend up to £130 a week on shopping for him but she abused that trust by repeatedly spending his money on herself.

He said the defendant was confronted by the man’s son and she admitted taking £350 and handed herself into the police.

Mr Lonsdale said the pensioned initially didn’t want to press charges but when she continued stealing from him, he changed his mind but urged the judge to spare her from prison.

The court heard how Hill had stolen a total of £3,128.97 but had returned £784 during the seven-month period of her thefts.

In a victim impact statement, the pensioner said he had been left feeling severely let down by his niece’s actions as he was saving the money to pay for his funeral and prevent the financial burden falling on his family.

Hill, of Cropton Close, Redcar, pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation between October 9, 2022, and May 31, 2023, when she appeared in magistrates’ court.

Nicci Horton, mitigating, urged the judge to spare the hardworking mother from immediate custody and allow her time to repay the stolen money.

She added: “She accepts that she was warned but then continued. She handed herself into the police and made full admissions.”

Recorder Andrew Walker sentenced the defendant to 12 months suspended for two years and ordered her to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and attend 32 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

“Despite the warning, you continued to use that card for yourself up until the end of May,” he said.

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“The victim is understandably incredibly disappointed in having his trust in you abused in this way. He even said that if you had asked, he would have loaned you some of the money but you didn’t ask, you stole.

“That was money that was being set aside to pay for his own funeral, so that he wouldn’t burden his family when that day came.

“He expresses that he doesn’t want you to go to prison because of the impact on your children but that decision is mine to make.”

Hill was also ordered to pay back £2,344 within the next two years.