Mum stole £46,000 from gran with dementia’s life savings blew cash on betting spree

A woman who squandered her grandmother’s life savings on a betting binge has walked free, despite her own family calling for her to be punished by a court.

Mother of two Carrie Chadwick, 41, plundered almost £46,000 over a two-and-a-half-year period after being put in charge of Kathleen Lancaster’s finances when the frail widow was diagnosed with severe dementia.

During her “heinous and unforgiveable” thieving spree, Mrs Lancaster’s Virgin TV and phone account was repeatedly cut off due to non-payment of bills. She was also left with so little food at home that she was left with just soup and biscuits in her larder.

The frail pensioner was subsequently moved to a care home following a fall, but after Chadwick failed to pay any fees, she was evicted with just her battered pair of slippers, one change of clothes, and a handful of underwear to her name.

Mrs Lancaster was able to settle in another rest home but died in June last year aged 85 after relatives exposed her granddaughter’s betrayal.

Chadwick blew much of the cash on various online gambling and gaming platforms, including Betfred, Google Play, Ladbroke, Skybet and Tombola. At one stage she won £5,400 but splashed out on a car instead of repaying any of the stolen money.

In a statement to police, Mrs Lancaster’s grandson Adam Dawber said: “Carrie is pure evil for what she has done to this family. This is truly despicable, evil and unforgivable.

“We as a family are still grieving but are also very much angry and upset at the fact that Carrie could steal thousands of pounds from Gran without a second thought. Leaving her sat in a chair staring at a TV with a Virgin Media banner across the screen as she did not pay gran’s bills.

“She left her without a phone as the bills weren’t paid, leaving Gran even more vulnerable as she couldn’t ring for help.

“She will be judged by God himself but today we are placing our faith in the courts to do the right thing to deal with the heinous crimes she committed against our Gran.”

At Bolton Crown Court Chadwick, of Norley Hall, Wigan, Greater Manchester, she faced jail after she admitted theft. However, she was given two years in prison suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 240 hours of unpaid work after she said she had two vulnerable children of her own to look after.

The court heard that Mrs Lancaster was diagnosed with dementia in May 2016, at which point Chadwick – who lived nearby – was tasked with taking on the responsibility for looking after her interests.

This included paying bills, taking care of her finances and being trusted to have third-party access to her bank accounts.

Philip Hall prosecuting said: “The family did have some concerns in 2017 when they noticed Kathleen’s Virgin TV and phone had been cut off on more than one occasion for non-payment of the bill and there was limited food in the house, such as just biscuits and soup.

“It would sometimes fall on other family members to provide food and at that time they did not appreciate the defendant was mismanaging Kathleen’s money. By early January 2018, Kathleen had fallen at home and it was decided that she could no longer live on her own.

“She moved into Montrose Care Home on 16th February 2018 and the defendant, as Kathleen’s representative, was responsible for paying the top-up fees. At the time Kathleen had more than enough income in her bank account to cover the fee and in addition, the defendant’s own brother, Matthew was contributing £80 a month towards the top-up fees, which he paid directly to the defendant,” he said.

But Kathleen’s care home fees account fell into arrears because the defendant failed to pay the fees on her behalf.

“The care home eventually had no option but to serve notice of eviction on Kathleen for non-payment,” Mr Hall said.

When approached for comment by The Mirror, Montrose Hall Care Home said it could not comment on residents who had stayed in the facility.

Mr Hall said there had been no contact from the defendant during this process and instead the care home had to liaise with other family members. The defendant did not use Kathleen’s money to provide her basic needs like clothes or underwear in the care home, he added, save for one occasion when she left money for a haircut.

Mrs Lancaster’s family made enquiries with her bank and noticed unusual spending, and challenged Chadwick who admitted to spending the money. Police discovered just one day after being given control of her grandmother’s Halifax account, Chadwick transferred £1,500 to herself.

She used Mrs Lancaster’s TSB account to make 203 payments on gambling websites, made cash withdrawals totalling £3,771, and used a further £4,504 for her own general living expenses.

She also looted £24,111 in 137 withdrawals from her grandmother’s Post Office account – often on the day it was fielding the victim’s weekly widow’s pension. In all £45,799.87 was stolen with just £560 repaid.

In mitigation defence counsel Rebecca Smith said her client was herself a widow and had 13-year-old twins – one a son who has a genetic disorder and a daughter who has mental health issues.

Ms Smith said: “She understands that the court will impose a custodial sentence today but I’m asking whether it could be suspended to allow her to care for her children and provide the only support network that they have.

“Miss Chadwick has to live with the devastating consequences of taking the money from her grandmother. She didn’t have an opportunity to apologise or to say goodbye and she says by accepting responsibility she is showing the court that she is remorseful for the harm that she has caused.”

Sentencing Chadwick Judge Martin Walsh told her: “This was a mean and despicable offense committed against your vulnerable grandmother over a sustained period of time when you were in a high degree of trust.

“But you are the sole carer for twins aged 13 and I clearly have to have regard to the impact of any sentence upon them. You have escaped going to prison by the skin of your teeth and that has been afforded by your caring responsibilities for your two vulnerable children.”

Two other charges of theft and neglect against Chadwick were allowed to lie on file.