A fraudster took advantage of a kind friend who put a roof over his head when the pandemic started by secretly spending thousands of her money on Amazon. The unsuspecting victim found herself in debt, feeling “hurt, betrayed” by Amy Worthington Clarke’s dishonesty.
The defendant, a 43-year-old carer, from Buttermere Close, Melton, admitted to fraudulently using the friend’s bank details, without permission, for online shopping with Amazon, in early 2020. The items that she splashed on included clothes, handbags, make-ups and jewelry.
James Bide-Thomas, prosecuting, told Leicester Crown Court that at the start of the Covid-19 outbreak the defendant asked the complainant if she could stay at home. They were work colleagues, both employed by Leicestershire County Council at the time.
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Worthington Clarke claimed her mother was “clinically vulnerable” at the time. The friend therefore agreed to let the defendant stay at her address, rent-free, the court heard.
The defendant then abused the situation to access the victim’s bank details. When confronted later, she agreed to make the purchases, but claimed some items were also for the benefit of the victim.
The defendant was originally charged with fraud of £3,500 but pleaded guilty on the grounds that it was around £2,500 – which was accepted by the Crown. Mr Bide-Thomas said: “The net result is that the victim has suffered financial loss. She feels upset and betrayed by someone she considered a friend.”
Mitigating Helen Johnson said the defendant had no prior convictions. She was no longer working with the complainant, having left the council about a year ago.
She said Worthington Clarke was currently working a ‘completely different job’ as a care assistant at a dementia home, sometimes working double shifts, trying to make ends meet – including paying off debt credit card “since his marriage”.
On sentencing, Judge Nicholas Dean QC said: “It was a devious offence, using card details to obtain goods for yourself. It amounted to stealing around £2,500, possibly even more , to a friend.
“It’s not a good thing to do.
“You are in your 40s and have never committed an offense before and I don’t think you are likely to re-offend. You are in financial debt and you are clearly working hard and struggling to make ends meet.”
Worthington Clarke was sentenced to a 12-month community order, with a 20-day rehabilitative activity requirement.