A CARER stole more than £7,000 from a 92-year-old woman who owned most of a Ribble Valley village.

After the case a friend of the victim said the crime represented ‘a massive betrayal’.

‘Mean’ Deborah Cappello abused her position of trust to get her elderly victim to sign blank cheques, which she then cashed for herself, a court heard.

The judge was told how after stealing the money from Dorothea Worsley-Taylor, who was known affectionately in the community as Miss D, Cappello used it to buy ‘valuable items’.

Speaking after the hearing, Miss Worsley-Taylor’s friend said the pensioner had died before she could find out how the woman she trusted would be punished.

She said: “We are devastated about what happened. Miss D was angry and upset that she had taken Debbie into her home and given her a job only for her to be treated like that.

“It was a massive betrayal.

“There are some wicked people in this world and Miss D did not deserve this.”

Preston Crown Court heard how the fraud came to the police’s attention after Christopher Orme, who managed the estate for Miss Worsely-Taylor, of Clitheroe Road, noticed cheques totalling £7,630 had been cashed without her permission.

The court was told £2,000 was used to buy a horse, but the cash was returned to Miss Worsley-Taylor, who died on May 26, by the seller when it was revealed the animal had been bought with stolen money.

Daniel Prowse, defending, said Cappello, 51, of Hodder Bridge Court, Chipping Road, Chaigley, had never been in court before.

He said: “She has abused the confidence of this lady.

“Mrs Cappello is a lady who is the sole carer for a disabled child. The defendant herself has had a very difficult life and a difficult background.

“She is a hardworking woman who has struggled through two abusive relationships, swamped with debts and with little time for herself.

“It is that background that really must have had some effect on this defendant who has spent 51 years of her life without getting into any trouble.

“She worked as a carer for a number of years. If she was genuinely dishonest, she would have had ample opportunity to carry out offences of this nature before.”

Mr Prowse said his client was ‘more than willing’ to pay back the money she stole.

But Judge Anthony Russell said Cappello had to serve a jail term and sentenced her to nine months.

He told the defendant: “I am afraid the court cannot overlook this serious dishonesty because these were very mean offences.

“It is very sad to see a woman of your age with no previous convictions before the court having committed such serious offences.”

After the sentencing, Miss Worsley-Taylor’s friend, who took Cappello on to help with her care, said the defendant had been welcomed into the village and was trusted by everyone.

She said: “I thought she was my friend.

“She was all right for two or three years and then she started behaving a bit oddly. I thought I could trust her.

“She even said ‘we have to take care of Miss D because people take advantage’.”

Miss Worsley-Taylor, who was 93 when she died, was born in 1920 in Pendelton to Sir James and Lady Audrey Worsley-Taylor.

She went to finishing school in Italy and had a chalet in Switzerland where she would go to ski.

She was a founding member of the Bashall Eaves Women’s Institute and was on the advisory committee for the Young Farmers.

One of her tenants said she enjoyed going to parties with others in the village and that she often donated to animal and children’s charities.

Some of her land has been donated to the Lancashire Wildlife Trust.

The friend added: “She was an all around good person.

“Miss D was always kind and felt sorry for people having a rough time.

“I have known her my whole life, she could be awkward, but she was kind and generous.”

A memorial service will be held in Miss Worsley-Taylor’s memory at All Hallow’s Church, Mitton, at 3pm on June 20.