A charity worker who fleeced a frail deaf and partially sighted 98-year-old woman out of £25,000 has avoided jail.

Portia Curran, was today (Wednesday, November 1) sentenced for defrauding her victim by abusing her position with the Estuary League Friends in Topsham, and fraudulently accessing her victim's bank accounts.

She was handed a three-year community order and ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work, along with a 40-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

At an earlier hearing, mother-of-one Curran, 32, of Higher Wear Road, Exeter, had pleaded guilty to defrauding Eva Hollins - who has since died - between June 2021 and March 2022.

She also admitted accessing Ms Hollins' bank accounts to make various transactions in November 2021.

A previous hearing at Exeter Magistrates' Court was told Curran used the money she gained to "pay bills, treats for her family and days out for her son".

Following today's sentencing, Rachel Gilpin, chief executive of Estuary League of Friends said: "The outcomes in Crown Court today in regard to former employee Portia Curran marks the end of a lengthy process starting with Portia’s suspension the moment we discovered that she had acted fraudulently and breach in a position of trust.

"We remain extremely shocked and saddened by what Portia did whilst in our employment as a part time member of our office team.

"Her actions were an abuse of our much loved client, Eva, a clear breach of the opportunity and trust we offered to her during her employment, and have caused considerable hurt to all involved especially our other staff members.

"For 36 years, our dedicated staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly to meet the needs of our community and to inspire trust in those who come to us for support and care.

"We want to reassure our clients, our friends and supporters, that we have reviewed all our policies and practices to prevent this from happening again.

"We are grateful to our clients and supporters for their kind words of support to the charity and its staff at this difficult time.

"Portia's actions ran against the grain of everything we stand for at Estuary League of Friends."