A woman who left her elderly parents heartbroken after stealing £50,000 of their life savings to pay for a life of luxury has been spared jail after an emotional family plea.
Jayne Breckons, of Berrybut Way, Stamford, spent thousands of pounds on expensive jewellery, handbags, trips to a spa and a holiday to Greece after abusing her power of attorney over the bank accounts of her parents Michael and Amy Priest.
Her mother, 88, discovered the theft by chance after a bank statement was mistakenly sent to her care home and she was shocked to find that a large portion of their £100,000 savings had disappeared.
Her 89-year-old husband Michael is said to be now too confused to understand what is happening. The couple celebrated 60 years of marriage in 2015.
Lincoln Crown Court was told that the thefts split the family apart.
The couple’s younger daughter Louise Edwards said her parents, who have since moved to Norfolk so she can look after them,have been left devastated.
“They are heart-broken. They don’t understand it but my mother doesn’t want to see my sister go to prison. None of the family does. What we want to do is make sure she knows she has done wrong.”
Breckons produced a £36,000 bankers draft in court as part payment to her parents and through her lawyer she promised that the outstanding £14,000 will be repaid in May.
Breckons, who formerly taught at Walton Girls High School in Grantham, told the court: “I’m really sorry. I’m really sorry. I miss them [her parents]. I really do want to see them.”
Breckons ,58, was given a two year jail sentence suspended for two years after admitting a charge of fraud involving £50,000 between November 20, 2012 and December, 30, 2013.
Judge Simon Hirst told her: “You abused the power of attorney in a most utterly disgraceful way.
“Had you been on the breadline and desperate to make ends meet one could perhaps understand why it happened but you stole £50,000 from your parents and spent it on Mulberry handbags, holidays, spa retreats and jewellery.
“I am extremely concerned that sending you immediately to prison is going to make things very much worse for Mr and Mrs Priest. You have your sister and your parents to be forever grateful to. I suspend this sentence for their sakes rather than yours.”
Michael Cranmer-Brown, prosecuting, told the court the offences happened while Mr and Mrs Priest were in a care home.
He said Breckons and her sister had power of attorney but it was Breckons who was in “control of their finances” as she lived nearer.
He said she withdrew money from cash machines, often £200 a time, totalling £24,000.
He said she bought three Mulberry handbags which cost between £1,200 and £1,500 a time; a £5,000 car for her daughter; sessions at Ragdale Hall spa near Melton; designer clothes and perfume, as well as holidays.
Mr Cranmer-Brown said: “When the police were involved and she was arrested she tried to make out it wasn’t really dishonest and nothing like the sums involved that she now accepts.”
He added: “The fact that it was spent on luxuries was deeply upsetting for her mother. She makes the point that had her daughter been in any financial difficulty and come to her for help she would have been happy to assist.
“There is the matter of what this defendant’s mother’s attitude is to the defendant going to prison. She is a lady in her 80s and is not in terribly good health and there is some concern it may be profoundly upsetting for her and cause her to take a turn for the worse.”
Nenad Spasojevic , defending, said his client had no previous convictions and a large number of people had submitted character reference for her.