Cheque cheat’s ‘shame’

A WOMAN who built up thousands of pounds of debt stole a cheque book from an elderly relative after posing as a worker from a housing association, a court heard.

Susan Frost, 44, claimed she was from Havebury Housing and had come to collect £200 in rent when she called at the home of the 76-year-old woman, who was her sister’s mother-in-law.

The victim did not recognise her and started to fill out a cheque, but when she was distracted, Frost stole the book.

Frost, of Cambridge Walk, Bury St Edmunds, admitted committing burglary and theft when she appeared at Bury Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

Prosecuting, Rosalind Cappleman told the court that on December 3 Frost knocked on the door of the victim’s home on the Mildenhall Road estate and stated she was from Havebury calling about rent arrears.

When the victim began to fill out a cheque, Frost asked for a glass of water before disappearing with the book.

Mrs Cappleman said: “Havebury contacted the police on December 20 saying that a cheque had been received from the defendant for rent arrears for £3,300.”

In a statement, the victim said she had possibly seen Frost at a family gathering but did not recognise her.

She said: “I’m at a loss to understand why she did this to me. This incident has left me quite worried about answering the door to people.”

Paul Booty, in mitigation, said Frost had about £5,000 worth of debt, which she hid from her family.

Francine Lewis, of the probation service, said Frost was due to be evicted days after committing the offence.

She added that Frost felt ‘dreadful’ about the crime.

When sentencing, District Judge David Cooper told Frost that her actions were ‘bound to attract shame’.

He said: “You didn’t do this for luxuries, you did it as an act of sheer desperation. It was on the eve of being thrown out of your own house.”

She was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, ordered to pay £85 costs and given a restraining order not to go to the victim’s address.