Woman jailed for £100,000 fraud

A legal executive was jailed for two-and-a-half years today after admitting defrauding four elderly clients out of more than £100,000, police said.

Jacqueline D'Hazzard, 44, of Goldstone Road, Hove, East Sussex, committed the offences while working at a firm of solicitors in the town.

She pleaded guilty to four offences of fraud by abuse of position between 2004 and 2009 at a hearing last month and was sentenced to 30 months and three lots of 12 months' imprisonment, to run concurrently, a spokesman for Sussex Police said.

Lewes Crown Court heard D'Hazzard abused her position as a trust probate executive to divert money from accounts held at the firm on behalf of the clients into her own accounts.

From one elderly victim alone she took £70,256, while she stole £11,612 from another. Two of them have since died.

The offences came to light when D'Hazzard's successor checked records she had left after she resigned in June 2009.

Detectives were informed and an investigation by the Sussex Police major fraud unit led to her being arrested in October that year.

Sentencing her, Judge Anthony Scott-Gall said: "Through your extreme folly your life is in ruins.

"You plundered the resources of four vulnerable people and spent them on yourself.

"Only an immediate custodial sentence is appropriate for your reckless and feckless behaviour."

Detective Constable Russ Jones, who investigated the case, said: "This was clearly a gross breach of trust and all the evidence is that D'Hazzard spent the money on herself, in paying debts and taking holidays.

"When the frauds were reported the firm co-operated fully with our inquiry."