An estate agent who swindled a 69 year old woman out of £5,000 has escaped jail – and has been ordered to repay the sum to the pensioner.
Claire Ainsworth’s UK Online agency was instructed by elderly owner Jennifer Scott to sell her house; Ainsworth brokered a sale to a local builder but told the vendor that the purchaser was unwilling to pay over £80,000.
In reality, the builder had said the highest price he would pay was £85,000.
Local media in Burnley report that prosecutor Stephen Parker told a court case: “She told Ms Scott that [the builder] Mr Walker wasn’t prepared to go any higher than £80,000 and Ms Scott reluctantly agreed to sell the property for that price.
However she told Mr Walker that the bottom price was £85,000, but that £80,000 would go through the books and £5,000 was to be paid in cash. Mr Walker paid that £5,000 in cash to the defendant believing that it was going to be given to Ms Scott.”
In reality the vendor knew nothing of the £5,000 until she was talking with the buyer, later.
The matter was reported to the police and now Ainsworth, from Oswaldtwistle – who denied a charge of fraud by false representation – was convicted in her absence when she failed to turn up on the day of the trial.
She had failed in a bid to have the case re-opened.
Defending, Christopher Hudson said his client was a woman of previous good character who was an “intrinsically decent and talented young woman” who bought her own first house at 20 and set up her own agency at 30.
She added: “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.”
Ainsworth was ordered to pay the vendor £5,000 compensation within six months and complete 200 hours’ unpaid work.