VANESSA WEST, a mother-of-five from Treorchy, Pentre, has been sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for 24 months, after being convicted of stealing more than £10,000 from a vulnerable friend she had been assisting. The sentencing took place at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court following a three-day trial.
The victim, who suffered from mobility issues due to a car crash, had relied on West’s help with household chores such as washing and cleaning. As a result, he had entrusted her with his bank card, which she was authorised to use for their weekly shopping. However, West violated the trust placed in her and took advantage of the situation over a four-month period.
During the trial, West denied the charges of fraud, claiming that she and the victim had an arrangement allowing her to use his card freely. Despite her defence, the court found her guilty. The prosecution presented evidence that West had used the card for personal expenses in 229 separate transactions, amassing a total of £10,352.
The victim’s sister, in an impact statement read to the court, described the devastating effect the theft had on her brother, stating that his world had “fallen apart” upon discovering that someone he considered a friend had betrayed him. She also mentioned that the trial had been an emotionally distressing experience for him, as his character and truthfulness were called into question.
The court learned that the victim’s bank had reimbursed him for slightly less than half of the stolen amount. This restitution provided some relief, but it did not alleviate the emotional toll the incident had taken on him.
During the sentencing hearing, it was revealed that West still denied her guilt and maintained the same position she held during the trial. Her marriage had also broken down as a consequence of her actions.
In addition to the suspended prison sentence, West was ordered to complete a rehabilitation course and perform 20 hours of unpaid work. Despite her lack of previous convictions, the court emphasised the seriousness of her offence and the impact it had on the victim’s life.
This case serves as a reminder of the vulnerability of individuals in need of assistance and the importance of trustworthiness when providing support to those who rely on it.