An estate agent who was convicted of fraud totalling £5,000 has been spared jail.
Claire Ainsworth previously failed to turn up to court after pleading not guilty to fraud by false representation and was convicted in her absence.
According to The Lancashire Telegraph, Ainsworth was instructed to sell the home of 69-year-old pensioner Jennifer Scott.
Burnley Crown Court heard that Ainsworth told Scott the buyer Steven Walker, who was about to purchase the property with his business partner, wasn’t prepared to go any higher than £80,000.
As such, Scott “reluctantly” agreed to sell the property for that price. However, she told Walker that the bottom price was £85,000, but that £80,000 would go “through the books” and that £5,000 was to be paid in cash.
Following her conviction in absence, Recorder Mary Prior QC has now sentenced Ainsworth to nine months custody suspended for 18 months. The judge said sending Ainsworth to prison immediately would “cause a disproportionate amount of suffering to her two young children”.
She said: “This was a mean offence and the impact on your victim has been considerable. It isn’t just the money for her. She trusted you. You betrayed that trust. As a result of that I am sure she suffered a second attack of shingles which debilitated her and saw her lose a significant amount of weight. That is your fault and until today you haven’t admitted that.”
Ainsworth was also ordered to pay Scott £5,000 compensation within six months and complete over 200 hours of unpaid work.