A WOMAN who attempted to murder her bingo friend so she would not be revealed for stealing almost £4,000 has been jailed for 14 years.

Paula Ayres, of Willow Road, Bishop’s Waltham, was sentenced after she was found guilty by a jury for stabbing her friend 63-year-old Julie Page.

The 51-year-old left her friend for dead after attacking her in Mrs Page’s home in Oak Road, Bishop’s Waltham, on July 22, last year.

Speaking after the hearing, the officer in the case, Detective Constable John Duggan said: “This was a horrific assault on a vulnerable lady in her own home, by a woman who was supposed to have been a friend of some years.

“It was intrinsically linked to the theft of nearly £4,000 from the victim’s bank account.

“The severity of the offence is reflected by the sentence the judge has passed.”

Portsmouth Crown Court heard that Ayres snapped in anger after realising that the had been caught out for stealing £3,900 from her victim’s bank account.

She had used her regular Sunday bingo trips in Eastleigh to take Mrs Page’s card and withdraw money.

The jury was told that Ayres feared she had been caught out after overhearing a conversation between Mrs Page and a family member about the thefts.

In a bid to silence her friend, Ayres left to grab a Stanley knife from her home before returning to the address and sent away a mutual friend to get supplies.

The thief then launched an attack stabbing her victim in the neck twice and a further five times in the back. She also ripped her ear when pulling out an earring.

Mrs Page “play dead” before Ayres left the home, but was arrested shortly after, having put the knife in her washing machine to cover up the crime.

In sentencing Judge Roger Hetherington referred to photographs which showed Mrs Page’s injuries and copious amounts of blood.

Weeks before the attack, Ayres had been convicted of three counts of fraud after she was caught stealing £2,337.62 from a vulnerable 86-year-old pensioner.

A total of £1,590 went towards paying Winchester City Council bills, with £550 given to Ross & Roberts bailiffs and £197.62 was used to pay back a loan by Amigo.

Paul Casey, defending, said he could offer ‘no mitigation’ for the ‘extremely grave offence’.

However, he told the court his client had suffered years of depression and prolonged grief after the stillbirth of her fourth child in 2008.

Judge Hetherington took Ayres’ mental health into account when sentencing.