Solicitor who stole £136,000 from elderly client with dementia jailed

George Martin
Sarah Aikenhead, 37, began the scam in May 2019. (MEN)
Sarah Aikenhead, 37, began the scam in May 2019. (MEN)

A woman who stole more than £136,000 from a dementia patient to spend on a lavish wedding has been jailed.

Solicitor Sarah Aikenhead, 37, abused her position at her own law firm to take money from the bank account of Pamela Sread, an elderly client who lived in a care home.

Mum-of-one Aikenhead then spent the cash on holidays, designer shopping, her wedding, and gave £30,000 to her brother, Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court heard.

Aikenhead, who has bipolar disorder, began her scam in May 2019, prosecutor Wayne Jackson said.

She had access to the Mrs Snead’s finances through the company, which controlled her accounts because she suffered dementia.

General view of Manchester Crown Court ,Minshull Street, in Manchester city centre.
She was jailed at Manchester Crown Court, Minshull Street. (PA)

When Mrs Sread's money ran out, Aikenhead then used the firm's own money to top it back up - the court heard.

Her greed was only discovered when Mrs Sread died and the process of probate began.

Mr Jackson said: "The defendant attempted to make amends and transferred two payments back into the client account of £25,000 and a further £20,000."

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Aikenhead also tried to claim her ex-partner would pay back a further £25,000 but when contacted by the solicitor's firm he said this was not the case, the court heard.

The fraud was reported to police and she later confessed when interviewed.

Aikenhead, of Beech Road in Sale, Greater Manchester, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud.

Mr Jackson said: "She used £12,000 towards a wedding venue and spent significant amounts of money on clothing and luxury items."

Aikenhead's former employer has suffered “significant financial difficulties” as a result of the fraud, the court heard.

Mr Jackson said: "It was certainly possible at one stage the business might go under."

Adam Watkins, mitigating, said Aikenhead accepted her offending was “nobody else's fault” other than her own.

Mr Watkins said: "She says she found [stealing the money] easy and so she continued."

He pleaded with the court to show mercy on Aikenhead as she is the primary carer for her young son. But Judge Tina Landale jailed Aikenheard for three years and four months.

Judge Landale said: "You were a highly valued and trusted member of staff. You had access to passwords and bank accounts for clients.

"You plundered the account of a highly vulnerable client of the firm's.”