A carer who conned her cousin out of £47,000 of her life savings – leaving her with just 21p in the bank – has been jailed.
Karen Devonport, 58, asked to "borrow" cash from her relative, who she described as being like a sister, on 45 occasions over a 20-month period.
Devonport claimed she needed the money to pay for her daughter's wedding, solicitors' bills, a baby shower, insurance, car repairs and a deposit for a trip to New York.
She told the victim, who had been saving with her husband since 1984, she was expecting a £65,000 divorce settlement, which she would use to pay her back – but she had already received the money and spent it.
Newcastle Crown Court was told that Devonport used the money on a lifestyle of paying for meals out, events with friends and presents.
The court heard that Devonport first asked for cash from her cousin in April 2019 and went on to "borrow" more money on 44 further occasions over a 20 month period until she owed a total of £47,074.
When the devastated victim finally realised what had happened and reported the matter to the police, she was left with just 21p in her building society account.
Prosecutors said that, because the victim had not told her family about lending Devonport the money, her mental health deteriorated to the point that her daughter thought she was suffering from dementia.
Even after she realised what had happened, she still felt "guilty" for being duped into parting with her life savings and for reporting Devonport to the police.
Judge Christopher Prince told the victim she should not feel "one iota" of guilt as she was "absolutely defenceless against one of the people closest to her in her life cheating her out of money by fraud".
Sue Hirst, defending, said Devonport suffered a "breakdown" after her marriage ended in 2018 and often felt "lonely and isolated” and used her cousin’s money to pay for meals out and events with friends and to buy them gifts.
Devonport, of Benfleet Avenue, in Sunderland, pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and was jailed for 28 months.
Locking her up, the judge said: "This is an offence where you have abused a position of trust, which you were held by a member of your family with whom you were very close.
“She had not one reason to doubt your assurances to her that lending you her life savings, that you were frittering away, would be repaid."
The judge added: "It was an extraordinarily mean offence committed against an extremely close member of your family.”