IT was money that should have gone towards the care of her sick father.
Instead Janice Knight, 65, betrayed her family’s trust by pocketing nearly £95,000 from her dad’s pension payments, allowances and the proceeds from the sale of his home.
She spent the cash paying off a mortgage on her second home, servicing credit card debts and buying a second hand car.
Her lies were only uncovered when cheques she had written to the care home where her father lived bounced.
Now she faces having to sell her home and car to pay back the money after admitting in court to abusing a position of trust and fraud.
Southampton Crown Court heard that Knight’s father William Harris began suffering from dementia in 2009, when he was in his 80s.
He moved in with mum-of-two Knight but shortly afterwards she contacted her three sisters and they agreed he should go into a care home because his condition had worsened. He went into Engleburn Care Home in Milford Road, Barton on Sea, in July 2009 and lived there until his death in 2012.
Prosecutor Tim Moores said it was arranged for his pension and other allowances to be paid into Knight’s account.
She received more than £35,000 with the expectation it would go towards paying for provisions, trips and other expenses at the home but instead it was absorbed into her account and spending, the court was told.
Knight also made regular withdrawals of her father’s pension credits paid into a post office account, obtaining in excess of £8,000 which she kept.
In 2010 she was granted power of attorney for her father and received more than £50,000 from the sale of his home in Dunstable, Bedfordshire.
Knight told one sister she had been paying the care home to allay her suspicions, the court heard. In reality, said Mr Moores, she had been transferring money for her own use.
The full extent of her betrayal only emerged at two separate meetings with the care home when she wrote them cheques for £38,000 and £45,000, both of which bounced. Mr Moores told the court that the total sum involved in the case amounted to £94,323.
He said: “None of that sum went to the benefit of her father. It wasn’t fraudulent from the outset but it was carried out over a significant period of time. She has not only breached the trust of her father but also the arrangements she had made with her family."
Knight, of Ridgeway, West Parley, Dorset, admitted abusing her position of trust and making a false representation to the care home. She received a two-year suspended sentence coupled with a 240 hour community work order.
Passing sentence, Judge Peter Ralls QC – who read a letter from one sister imploring him not to jail her – told Knight she had committed “an unpleasant crime” and had taken advantage of her vulnerable father.
As she left the dock, Knight thanked the judge, adding: “I am really sorry.”
However she will return to the court in May when she will face a confiscation hearing brought under the Proceeds of Crime Act which will strip her of assets.
In mitigation, James Newton-Price said Knight paid regular visits to her father and there was no suggestion she had not been concerned about his welfare.
After leaving her holiday park job, her debts grew. She had credit card debts of £50,000 and her second home – a flat in Weymouth – was a constant financial drain. She then started going into her accounts and the funds got mixed up, Mr Newton-Price said.
“There is no indication the money went on high living or treats. It simply dissipated in a year. She clearly should not have done it. She has been putting her head in the sand, clearly hoping for the best, and should have told her sisters of her predicament.
“She realises there is no way out and she will have to repay the money.”