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Tory club worker is jailed for theft
A CONSERVATIVE club worker was jailed for 16 months after plundering the bank account of an 82-year-old woman she befriended there.
Karen Butler, 51, of Kingswood Chase, Leigh , was entertainments secretary at Iveagh Conservative Club, in Leigh Road, Leigh, where she got to know cleaner Esther Amber.
Butler took over Miss Amber’s finances to help her pay for food, rent, and bills. But things took a sinister twist when Butler began spending the cash on herself and her family.
This included buying a holiday, football memorabilia, and even her son’s car tax.
Luke Ponte, in mitigation, said Butler had been an “active member in civic life”, but was now ostracised.
He said: “She has been vilified by her peers and feels very much excluded from the community she was once a part of.” He told Southend Crown Court she had been made aware she could go to prison and was terrified.
Butler was found guilty of two counts of theft. These related to £3,961 in cash and £1,643 in debit card transactions between May 2010 and January 2011.
The jury failed to reach a verdict on a third count of theft relating to £5,000 of cheques. The charge was ordered to lie on file.
Butler had always denied any wrongdoing. The court heard she had since repaid more than £11,000.
Judge John Lodge accepted her crime had not been pre-planned and was purely opportunistic.
He said: “I do not sentence you for targeting Esther Amber. I accept in the beginning there was a genuine friendship.
“I accept in the beginning you were helping her out.
“ I accept you did not take over her finances in order to steal from her.
“But once you had control of those finances you succumbed to temptation.”
However, he decided to jail Butler because of the abuse of trust.