A convicted fraudster who befriended a Norwich pensioner suffering from Multiple Sclerosis and mild dementia stole her bankcard and withdrew £480 from her account, a court heard.

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Julie McCormick, 48, was caught after she was spotted acting suspiciously in the city centre by leaning into a drain and retrieving a bank card.

Andrew Thompson, prosecuting, said police then searched McCormick, and found the stolen bankcard and £182 in cash.

Mr Thompson said police then spoke to the 68-year-old victim and discovered she had been befriended by McCormick, who had done some jobs for her. Mr Thompson said the victim, recently bereaved, had kept her bankcard in her bedroom and had not given permission for McCormick to use it and yet McCormick had made three withdrawals on one day from a city cashpoint amounting to £480.

In a statement, the victim said she was left feeling “lonely and vulnerable” and embarrassed that she let herself be taken in.

She said: “How could I have trusted a woman like her?”

McCormick, of Magdalen Close, Norwich, admitted theft and was also in breach of a 44-week suspended jail sentence for making a false representation and burglary. She also had previous convictions for fraud and theft.

Jailing her for a year, Recorder Guy Ayers told McCormick he would give her credit for her guilty plea but said it was a “thoroughly mean” offence.

“The victim had MS and mild dementia and she had suffered a bereavement and was particularly vulnerable at that stage to people showing her kindness.”

He added “For this type of breach of trust... there can be no alternative to custody.”

He also ordered confiscation of the £180 found on McCormick and ordered she serve another 14 days in jail in default.

Jude Durr, for McCormick, said McCormick herself was vulnerable as she suffered from mental health issues and had at one stage been homeless.

Her offending “was a consequence of her chaotic lifestyle and from time to time her use of drugs.”

Afterwards, a police spokesman said: “It was a serious breach of trust and the custodial sentence reflects the serious nature of this offence and demonstrates that the targeting of vulnerable victims in society will not be tolerated.”

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