A housing support services manager was today (Friday) cleared of fraudulently using an elderly woman’s Visa card to buy goods for herself.
Susan Hallgarth, 58, of Vacherie Lane, North Kyme, had pleaded not guilty to a charge of fraud by abuse of position during the period between May 2 and July 21, 2014.
Hallgarth, who worked as a support services manager for Boston-based Mayflower Housing, was alleged to have fraudulently bought goods on Amazon using the card of Betty Pilgrim, 85, who was a resident of Mayfields sheltered housing complex in Broadfield Lane, Boston.
But at the end of a trial at Lincoln Crown Court the jury cleared Hallgarth of fraud.
During the trial Hallgarth did not contest the fact that she paid for items on Amazon using Betty Pilgrim’s card details but she told the jury she did so inadvertently and had no intention of defrauding the old lady.
Hallgarth said she had previously used her own Amazon account to buy a wheelchair which Ms Pilgrim requested and that was paid for using Ms Pilgrim’s card.
But months later she made further purchases for herself using Amazon and the payments were taken from Ms Pilgrim’s card rather than her own.
She told the jury: “I did not use Betty’s card deliberately. I was not aware how it came about. I wasn’t aware it had defaulted. I didn’t make a deliberate decision to use Betty’s card.”
She added that she did not regularly check her own account and did not realise that the payments were not being made using her own card.
The jury was told that Hallgarth has since repaid Ms Pilgrim for the goods bought with the pensioner’s Visa card.
Richard Sheldon, prosecuting, alleged that Hallgarth had deliberately used the bank card to purchase hundreds of pounds worth of items including mobile phone accessories, stationery, shoes, furniture, a kindle and the complete series of the television drama Life on Mars.