Woman of 71 jailed for theft of £20,000 from neighbour

Marion Melton. Photo: Rowland Hobson
Marion Melton. Photo: Rowland Hobson

A 71-year-old woman hs been jailed after she stole more than £20,000 from her housebound neighbour who had been her friend for 50 years.

Marion Melton, 71, of Church Road, Wittering, was sent to prison for one year for the theft of £20,885 over three years from 2008 from neighbour Gertrude Greaves , 84.

The court was told the two had known each other for 50 years and Melton had permission to withdraw money from the post office for her housebound friend– but started taking more than she was entitled to draw out.

She was stopped only when Mrs Greaves’ bank noticed irregular payments.

At Peterborough Crown Court Melton admitting theft.

She was given 28 days 
to pay £11,000, and for 18 months, starting in January, she will have to pay £400 every month.

She originally denied the offences when questioned by police, but later made phone calls to detectives to admit her part in the offences.

Her barrister Damian Willat asked Judge Nic Madge to have mercy on her.

But the court heard that she had claimed she could pay back only £5,000 and had not yet paid a penny. A check of her bank statements revealed there was £8,000 in her account.

Judge Madge said he had no option but to jail her and said her failure to make any attempt to pay the money back showed a lack of remorse.

He said: “Anyone who has truly shown remorse and feels guilty for stealing from a friend of 50 years 
who has £8,000 in their account would tell their solicitors to send the money immediately to the prosecution service.”

Speaking afterwards, Mrs Greaves’ granddaughter Theresa White said: “I can’t wait to tell my gran.

“She’ll be upset because Melton was her friend but she will pleased the truth has come out.

“I think it is a fair sentence. I am relieved she did not get away with it.”

The court heard Melton had not revealed what she had done with all the money although Mr Willat said she had put some in a
 dustbin.

Michael Proctor, prosecuting, added there were reports she had given 
some to her neighbours to
 buy treats for their children and to pay utility bills.

Mr Willat added Melton had not committed any offences before, and would struggle to cope in prison because of her age and 
medical issues.

Judge Madge said no judge would want to imprison a woman aged over 70 but said the offence was so serious 
that only an immediate custodial sentence was suitable.

He said: “For over six months you have had the means to pay back some of the money.

“There has been a lack of frankness.

“Why say you only had £5,000 when there was £8,000 available.”

The court heard Melton’s son, who attended court, was able to add £3,000 to pay back part of the money.