A fraudster took mean advantage of a kind friend who put a roof over her head when the pandemic began by secretly spending thousands of her money on Amazon. The unsuspecting victim was left in debt, feeling “hurt, betrayed” by Amy Worthington Clarke’s dishonesty.
The defendant, a 43-year-old care assistant, of Buttermere Close, Melton, admitted fraudulently using the friend’s banking details, without permission, for online purchases with Amazon, in early 2020. Items she splashed out on included clothing, handbags, make-up and jewellery.
James Bide-Thomas, prosecuting, told Leicester Crown Court that at the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, the defendant asked the complainant if she could stay at her home. They were work colleagues, both employed by Leicestershire County Council at the time.
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Worthington Clarke claimed her mother was “clinically vulnerable” at the time. So the friend agreed to let the defendant stay at her address, rent free, the court heard.
The defendant then abused the situation to access the victim’s banking details. When later confronted, she accepted making the purchases, but claimed some items were also for the benefit of the victim.
The defendant was originally charged with a £3,500 fraud, but pleaded guilty on the basis it was around £2,500 – that was accepted by the Crown. Mr Bide-Thomas said: “The net result is the victim has been left with a financial loss. She feels upset and betrayed by someone she considered was a friend.”
Helen Johnson, mitigating, said the defendant had no previous convictions. She no longer worked with complainant, having left the council about year ago.
She said Worthington Clarke was currently “in a completely different job” as a care assistant in a home for dementia sufferers, sometimes working double shifts, trying to make ends meet – including paying off a credit card debt “from when she was married”.
Sentencing, Judge Nicholas Dean QC said: “It was a sneaky offence, using the card details to obtain goods for yourself. It amounted to you stealing about £2,500, perhaps even more, from a friend.
“That’s not a nice thing to do.
“You’re in your 40s and haven’t previously offended and I don’t think you’re likely to re-offend. You’re in financial debt and are clearly working hard and find it difficult to make ends meet.”
Worthington Clarke was sentenced to a 12 month community order, with a 20 day rehabilitation activity requirement.