A Chippenham woman who tried to cash a cheque for some rogue traders who had fleeced a 91-year-old woman has walked free from court.
Kayleigh Hemmings, 20, of Sheldon Road, acted as banker for the men who charged the woman £650 for cutting down a bush, then altered a cheque to read £6,500. But staff at the victim's bank were suspicious when Hemmings phoned asking when the money would be cleared.
Claire Marlow, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court that two men called at the 91-year-old woman's home in September last year. She said: "They asked if she needed any gardening work and she said she had a bush needed cutting in her back garden."
After doing the work they told her it would be £650 and she wrote out the cheque to that value but at their request left the 'payee' section blank.
Hemmings paid in the cheque, which had been made out in her name and altered to read £6,500, on October 4. A week later she contacted the branch to ask whether it had cleared.
"The bank became suspicious, they contacted the police," Miss Marlow said.
"She had said the cheque came from an auntie in a birthday card from the north. They knew Mrs Jarvis was one of their customers in Swindon."
When she was questioned by police she said did not know how her name got on to the cheque or who altered it.
Miss Marlow said that though the bank had paid back most of the cash they believed the £650 had been correctly put into her account.
Hemmings pleaded guilty to a money laundering charge.
Edward Hetherington, defending, said "This is a morally repugnant and reprehensible course of events.
"The papers and common sense show Miss Hemmings played a secondary role. It was the men who did the work which was not of the standard charged.
"She was presented with the cheque as she had a bank account. She agreed knowing the cheque was not legitimate."
He said his client suffered 'a number of cognitive difficulties' and had been in an unhealthy relationship, which is now at an end and she was due to move to Devizes.
Passing sentence, Nicholas Atkinson QC said: "You may not have known who the victim was but you have acknowledged through your counsel that you have to pay this lady back."
He imposed a three-month jail term suspended for a year, with 80 hours of unpaid work, 12 months of supervision, and an order to pay £650 compensation.