Niece fleeced her great-aunt, 84, out of £175k to fund lavish lifestyle and showed off foreign holidays and shopping sprees on FacebookJanuary 22, 2019
Stephanie Colasanti, 31, spent £175,000 of Glenda Bennett’s money on holidays, shopping sprees, a car and funding her drug use.
A judge told selfish Colasanti she used the 84-year-old's bank account “as your own piggy bank” after her relative had inherited almost half a million pounds.
When the elderly woman’s money ran out, she asked Colasanti, of Wanborough, Swindon, Wiltshire, if she could move into the flat she had bought and given her great niece a half share in.
But after Colasanti refused, Ms Bennett tried to take her own life.
Colasanti, who pleaded not guilty, was convicted of two counts of fraud following a trial last year and even now claims her victim “framed her”.
HER PERSONAL PIGGY BANK
The jury heard how after Ms Bennett had come into £473,000 she showered gifts on her great niece.
But unknown to her partially deaf great aunt the defendant started to use her telephone banking to fund her lifestyle.
And she also claimed she was spending huge sums renovating the flat and on Open University fees when in reality she was keeping the cash for herself.
Between 2015 and 2018 she enjoyed trips to India, Egypt, Greece, Kenya, Cape Verde and Ibiza.
Colasanti posted a string of photos of her globetrotting on Facebook.
I consider you manipulative
When the octogenarian found her bank accounts had been cleaned out she initially thought she had been the victim of fraud.
But when the finger pointed at Colasanti the defendant tried to persuade the doting aunt she was mistaken by playing on her emotions.
She even phoned her and surreptitiously recorded the conversation, despite being warned off by police, in what the judge said “illustrates your conniving character”.
In her defence, Colasanti, who represented herself, said she was not guilty and sought to appeal.
Speaking from the dock she said she had suffered mental health problems and had issues in the past but had not done anything dishonest.
Colasanti said: "I do not believe that in the event of a jury finding me guilty in something they didn't understand is fair, either.”
She claimed that all of her holidays were paid out of her wages as she worked hard in a 50-hour a week position.
Judge Jason Taylor QC said: "You received approximately £250,000, not all of that was fraudulently.
"Your great aunt was extremely generous with you and gifted you money.
“That generosity was not enough for you.”
In 2015 she received £74,000, just over £144,000 a year later and just over £2,500 in 2017.
While sentencing her at Swindon Crown Court last week, the judge said the criminal standard was £175,000 and Colasanti only stopped the spending spree because “the money ran out”.
Judge Taylor said: "The level of compassion and empathy in the face of her undeserved generosity is staggering.”
He added that she hadn’t demonstrated any remorse and “regretted” having to face the court.
He said: "I consider you manipulative, self-centred, and somebody who has no regard for anybody but yourself.
"You are motivated solely by greed. What you did with the money had made Miss Bennett's latter years utterly miserable.
"You still deny it even telling the probation officer that your great aunt framed you.
"This case is particularly sad.
"You have broken hearts and divided a family and my sincere hope is that you will take time in custody to finally stop blaming others."
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