‘Heartless’ Rye estate agent jailed for defrauding elderly St Leonards client out of £160,000
A Rye estate agent has been jailed for five years for defrauding an elderly woman out of £160,000 - and spending it on expensive holidays and a new car.
Elizabeth Smith, 52, previously of Winchelsea Beach, but now of Wilton Road, Bexhill, was sentenced at Hove Crown Court on November 2.
Her 82-year-old victim, Joan Cannon, from St Leonards, had been in court to see Smith admit the offence earlier this year, but sadly died a few days later.
Smith had been trading as Waves Estates in Cinque Ports Street, Rye, when she committed the fraud.
She pleaded guilty on 11 August to fraud by abuse of position between 2018 and 2019, by defrauding Joan of £160,000 which Joan had given her to help complete the purchase of a property. Instead, Smith kept the money and spent it on herself.
The prosecution followed an investigation by Hastings detectives after a report was received in March 2019.
Speaking outside court, Detective Sergeant Mitchell Humby said: “This was a heartless fraud on an elderly and vulnerable person. It only came to light when the victim became suspicious of the transactions passing though her account and the person from whom she was buying the property became concerned as to why she wasn’t receiving the money in payment.
“The trial was then delayed for court scheduling Covid-related reasons, but the victim followed the case, so she eventually saw Smith admit her guilt and be remanded in custody to await sentencing. However, tragically Joan died only a few days later.”