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Nurse sold mentally ill mum's house and emptied bank account behind her back; Joanne Chiswell, 41, from Leicestershire, splashed out on "luxury items" while secretly using her mother's money.

Byline: Amber Hicks

A psychiatric nurse left her mentally ill mum destitute after emptying her bank account and selling her home behind her back, a court heard.

Joanne Chiswell, 41, was granted power of attorney to safeguard her mother's assets, but instead splashed out on "luxury items" as well as restaurants and general shopping - dishonestly treating the bank account account as her own.

Greedy Chiswell sold her mother's home, with all the contents, significantly below market value for [pounds sterling]85,000, as the victim languished in psychiatric care, reportsLeicestershire Live.

Leicester Crown Court was told that Chiswell, a [pounds sterling]32,000-a-year community psychiatric nurse for the NHS, was blaming her misdeeds on an abusive former partner, who she claimed put her "under pressure."

Chiswell's mother was originally diagnosed with early onset vascular dementia and treated accordingly - but in 2015 her position improved and the diagnosis changed.

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Jonathan Eley, prosecuting, said: "She became lucid and understands what's happening and knows her bank account has been emptied and her house has been sold."

All her possessions went, but she was particularly distressed that cherished personal items, including photographs with all the precious memories they evoked, were gone.

Mr Eley said: "The house was significantly under valued, even the conveyancers were asking for a more significant price.

"All the money that was taken was spent."

Chiswell's brother found out and reported the matter to the police, who liaised with the court of protection.

The court heard the defendant had few assets to her name.

At an earlier court hearing, Chiswell was said to have used some cash to pay off debts and "had been made bankrupt."

Mr Eley said some of the stolen money went on "luxury items."

Chiswell, of Glenfield, pleaded guilty to fraud, involving the total loss of [pounds sterling]90,457, between May 2012 and March 2015.

Judge Nicholas Dean QC said: "I'm hesitating because you deserve to go to prison."

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Of the defendant's claim she was under pressure from an abusive ex-partner, the judge said: "I'm not sure I entirely accept he's the wicked individual in all of this, but there may have been some pressure."

He said it was the defendant's ex-partner who had, in fact, brought the matter to light.

The judge said: "You rather felt you deserved to help yourself to your mother's assets because of the care you'd devoted to her and the difficulties she caused you because of alcoholism and hospitalisation.

"But she was the vulnerable one here.

"Notwithstanding you'd selflessly helped her, with no thanks or reward, you had no right to help yourself to her goods.

"She says it's not so much the loss of her money or house but more the loss of her memories, with lost photographs and things she'd treasured.

"You didn't think she'd recover, but she did.

"You now realise the harm you caused.

"You're never realistically ever going to be able to repay a fraction of what you stole.

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"A power of attorney was granted to you by the court to act effectively as if you were your mother looking after her finances in a proper way that could not be questioned - you abused that trust.

"You've never been in trouble before and I don't suppose for one moment you'll offend again.

"I don't see any purpose in sending you directly to prison.

"I think the greatest punishment you will face is the shame of what you've done.

"You will have to live with that for the rest of your life.

"I hope you will be able to rebuild a relationship with your family.

"I hope you feel able to fully and frankly apologise and there can be a reconciliation but the damage you've done is enduring."

Pree Brada, mitigating, said Chiswell, was still employed as a community psychiatric nurse by the NHS.

She said: "Her employers are aware.

"They haven't dismissed her yet but she'll be going before the relevant board.

"She tried to attempt suicide in February and has been suffering from anxiety and depression and been off work on sick pay and tax credits.

"She said she would pay back [pounds sterling]200 a month to her mother."

Miss Brada said the mother had written to the defendant's daughter, but Chiswell had not personally heard from her mother for two years.

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The judge said: "Perhaps she could write to her mother and express regret and it could begin to heal the problems she's responsible for?

"I'd have thought it's inevitable she'll lose her job as a psychiatric nurse; she must be working in a position where she cares for people who have the sort of illness her mother was believed to have had.

"There's no reference from her employer."

Miss Brada told the judge that Chiswell's aunt and father had written supportively to the court.

She said the complainant had long standing problems with alcohol dependency and the defendant had been a "sole carer" for her - as well working full time, coping with a "physically and emotionally abusive relationship" with her then partner, with whom she has an eight-year-old son to look after.

The victim was said to have previously been admitted to hospital 25 times, due to alcohol related problems, and was also sectioned, which took its toll on the defendant at the time.

Miss Brada said it was the idea of the defendant's ex-partner to sell her mother's home and possessions.

It was also her ex-partner who "tipped off" the defendant's brother about the missing money in a "nasty and revengeful way," said Miss Brada.

Chiswell was given an 18 month jail sentence, suspended for two years.

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Credit: Leicester Mercury / BPM Media

Chiswell was given an 18 month jail sentence, suspended for two years

Credit: Leicester Mercury / BPM Media

The nurse blamed her misdeeds on an abusive former partner, who she claimed put her "under pressure"

Credit: Leicester Mercury / BPM Media

The 41-year-old pleaded guilty to fraud, involving the total loss of [pounds sterling]90,457

Credit: Leicester Mercury / BPM Media

The court heard she had previously been admitted to hospital 25 times, due to alcohol related problems
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Title Annotation:News,UK News
Publication:Daily Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 24, 2019
Words:1065
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