August 5, 2003
The Bath Chronicle
A Carer who pocketed hundreds of pounds from a multiple sclerosis sufferer she was looking after has been told she won't face a prison term. Ellen Townsend stole two cheques from the woman she was caring for and then cashed them for £300 and £250.
The 26-year-old, formerly of Primrose Drive, Melksham, but now of Coope Hill, Bromham, had originally denied the offences which took place between January 1 and July 10 last year.
But on the morning of her trial at Swindon Crown Court, she changed her plea and admitted taking the cheques and money.
Judge John McNaught said the offences were not serious enough for him to consider a prison term.
Townsend took the two cheques from MS sufferer Lindsey Anderson before using them to obtain £550.
She was charged with theft and two counts of deception and pleaded not guilty in January this year. After electing trial by jury she again denied the offences and the case was adjourned for trial.
But yesterday Townsend pleaded guilty to one charge of theft and two of obtaining a money transfer by deception.
Paul Orton, defending, said: "From the outset this was a not guilty plea.
"I have taken the details of this. She was frightened, she was on anti-depressants and she couldn't face the reality of what she had done.
"She had spoken to family and friends and she now fully accepts the prosecution case against her."
He asked the judge to give her credit for the fact that she had pleaded guilty and not forced the victim to come to court and give evidence.
At an earlier hearing the court was told the prospect of Lindsey Anderson having to attend court had caused her "great distress".
Judge McNaught said that while Townsend would receive some credit for her plea, it would not be as much as if she had admitted the offence from the start.
The case was adjourned for sentencing.
Copyright © 2003, Northcliffe Electronic Publishing Ltd.