A Mansfield woman who siphoned money from an elderly stroke victim’s bank account to buy more than £100 of cat food has been spared jail.
Tracey Zuerner, 48, of Brick Kiln Lane, admitted fraud by abusing a position of trust.
Nottingham Crown Court heard she had been appointed by the local authority to manage the finances of her neighbour, who had speech and mobility problems following a stroke.
Sarah Knight, prosecuting, said: “Zuerner, as his neighbour and friend, agreed to look after his finances and make payments on his behalf.”
In August 2014 a friend of the victim saw various transactions on his bank statement and challenged Zuerner to account for them.
Ms Knight said: “She said she had been using his credit card after her card was lost.
“There was an agreement there would be no more ‘borrowing’ of his money.”
However, in January 2015 Zuerner bought £118 of cat food using her neighbour’s money and the police were called.
The court heard Zuerner had no previous convictions, but had been cautioned in March 2006 for opening a bank account using a relative’s details.
Claire Moran, mitigating, said the amount taken put it in the lowest category for this kind of offence.
Judge Jeremy Lea said: “This was a mean offence. I appreciate your initial involvement was in order to try and assist.
“You weren’t trying to line your own pockets, but you did take advantage of the trust placed in you. In my book that’s a serious matter. It’s made more serious by your previous conviction.”
Zuerner was sentenced to four months in jail, suspended for a year, and ordered to carry out 100 hours of community work.
He told her she must also pay £400 compensation “for the money that has been lost and for the upset and distress caused”.