A DAUGHTER defrauded her 85-year-old mother of more than £95,000 and spent it on “retail therapy”.

For nearly two years after her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and moved into a care home, Diane Lesley Wedgewood, 57, visited her weekly while making repeated withdrawals from her two bank accounts, York Crown Court heard.

By the time the Court of Protection realised what was happening and called in police, her mother’s care fees account was £26,000 in arrears.

Wedgewood, of Swale Avenue, Dringhouses, pleaded guilty to fraud through abuse of position.

Judge Sean Morris said it was the kind of case that was going to occur more and more as the average age of the population increased.

“There was a pot of money to pay for this lady’s care in the twilight of her years and when the money runs out, the taxpayer picks it up,” he said.

For Wedgewood, John Batchelor said the local authority had paid the £26,000 shortfall and been reimbursed through the sale of a house for £202,000.

The daughter had changed after the death of her daughter shortly before her crimes began. She had stopped opening her post and had buried her head in the sand. She was remorseful and needed bereavement counselling.

The judge told Wedgewood: “From what I have seen, you frittered it away on your family, in effect on your victim’s family, and on your own retail therapy.”

Martin Robertshaw, prosecuting, said the Court of Protection authorised Wedgewood to look after her mother’s financial affairs in December 2015 when the older woman was no longer capable of doing so.

By October 2017, the daughter had taken £95,810.

Mr Batchelor said the mother had not had to leave the care home and was “mercifully oblivious to all this”.

Members of Wedgewood’s family were in court to support her. She had a job taking disabled children to and from school.

The judge said the Court of Appeal told judges they should only send people to prison as a last resort.

He gave her a two-year prison sentence suspended for 18 months on condition she wears an electronic tag and observes a nightly curfew from 8pm to 6am for five months, does 300 hours’ unpaid work and 15 days’ rehabilitative activities.

He said her employer should allow her to keep her job.

The mother’s finances are now overseen by a court-appointed solicitor.