A 70-YEAR-OLD woman has spoken of her "agony" upon realising her carer of seven years scammed her out of tens of thousands of pounds.

As reported in the Star earlier this week, Claire Roughley, of Newfields, Eccleston, was imprisoned for six years on Monday, October 11, as she was convicted of four counts of theft and one count of fraud.

Using calculated methods over a period of six years, the 39-year-old stole more than £325k from her parents, grandparent and a disabled woman she cared for to fund an "all consuming gambling addiction".

One of Roughley's victims was the former mayoress of St Helens, Jean Almond, who is quadriplegic and suffers from multiple sclerosis.

As Jean does not have the use of her arms or hands, Roughley took personal care of the 70-year-old over a period of seven years - which including driving her around, taking her shopping, physio sessions and showering her.

A "trusted" and "valued member of Jean's care team", she was also the only other person entrusted with Jean's pin number.

Unbeknown to Jean, however, Roughley betrayed this trust was scamming her out of tens of thousands of pounds, while also fraudulently setting up a credit card in her name to deposit further funds.

St Helens Star: Claire Roughley was sentenced to six years in prison for four counts of theft and one count of fraudClaire Roughley was sentenced to six years in prison for four counts of theft and one count of fraud

 

Describing her relationship with Roughley, Jean said: "She was very valuable to me as she drove my van on shopping trips and appointments. She made herself indispensable in that respect and became like a friend.

"She bought my children and grandchildren Christmas presents and was just very well liked. She became part of the family."

Due to this close relationship, the uncovering of the truth was all the more painful for Jean and her husband Geoff.

In February 2020, the Almond’s became concerned as Jean’s credit card was refused several times and she was handed a fraud notice.

Using the same tactics as she did with her parents, Roughley used the fake identity of an Experian employee named "Gemma" to reassure the couple there were no issues with their finances.

However, it was confirmed Jean had been a victim of fraud on a visit to the M&S branch in Warrington. Described as the "worst day of our lives", Jean and Geoff discovered tens of thousands of pounds had been going in and out of their accounts.

Accentuating the pain of this realisation, Jean had to "pretend everything was normal" and continue to be cared for by Roughley for an extra week while police gathered further evidence to arrest her.

Jean said: "This was the worst part of it, it was just agony to pretend everything was normal. I felt so vulnerable, I was a nervous wreck."

St Helens Star: Roughley appeared at Liverpool Crown Court on Monday, October 11Roughley appeared at Liverpool Crown Court on Monday, October 11

Although the banks refunded the Almond's for their financial losses - as there was sufficient evidence of where the funds had been directed - the events have had a lasting impact on the couple, and they have struggled to trust anyone again or find a suitable carer for Jean.

Jean, who sat in Liverpool Crown Court with her husband as Roughley was sentenced, said: "It's just dreadful. I didn't feel any satisfaction or pleasure in seeing her sentenced.

"The only satisfaction I can take is that she is not doing it to anyone else."