A PENSIONER who stole over £23,000 from a dementia charity has been branded “deplorable” by the judge sentencing her.

Fraudster Barbara Clarke, 69, used her position at Bolton Dementia Support to divert funds into her personal bank account, using cash to put down a deposit on a car and pay mobile phone bills for her extended family.

She even employed her own grandson, giving him sick pay he was not entitled to while he was working for another company, falsifying invoices and faking letterheads to try and cover her tracks.

Appearing at Bolton Crown Court for sentencing, Clarke stood in the dock alongside her grandson, Scott Schofield-Clarke, 21, who admitted making false claims about his employment at the charity and possessing a letter for use in fraud in 2018.

Philip Hall, prosecuting, described how Clarke, who pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud, made cash withdrawals from the charity’s bank, used old letterheads from her son’s company to produce bogus invoices, made payments for courses and training days that didn’t exist and used the charity’s money to buy items she was not entitled to.

All the offences took place between 2013-18. In March 2018, she had used £2,500 of the charity’s money to put a deposit down on a new Ford Focus.

Clarke, of Higher Shady Lane, Bromley Cross, had employed her grandson, of the same address, without any permission and it was unclear what exactly he did, the court heard.

In January 2018, he started a new job but continued to receive wages from the charity and then began to claim sick pay after he said he was involved in a car crash.

“He significantly overstated his mental health problems,” said Mr Hall.

Suspicions were raised in July 2018 and in a victim impact statement read to court, a spokesman for the charity said staff had been “devastated” by Clarke’s actions with the charity almost being forced to close.

“It was a selfish act which showed contempt for the charity,” added the spokesperson.

Nicholas Ross, defending Clarke, said she had paid back £10,000 of the stolen money and felt a “profound and genuine remorse”.

Handing Clarke a 16-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and imposing s 90-day electronically monitored curfew between 7pm-7am, Judge Timothy Stead, said: “What you did is deplorable and I think you know that.

“You have lost your good character and good standing and I know you feel shame about that.”

Schofield-Clarke was also made the subject of a 90-day curfew between 9pm and 6am.

Judge Stead added that a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing would take place on April 29, 2021.