An independent financial adviser swindled a vulnerable pensioner out of more than £50,000 and then claimed she had spent it on luxury holidays and gave him cash gifts.
Over 18 months David Bateman depleted the life savings of an 80-year-old family friend who lives in assisted accommodation and suffers from severe arthritis.
When he was caught, he tried to argue the pensioner had blown the money by taking expensive holidays and giving him £30,000.
The 69-year-old former financial adviser maintained his innocence until a probation officer prepared a pre-sentence report and he finally admitted his crime when in the dock at Canterbury Crown Court.
His barrister David Howe told Judge Rupert Lowe that he now accepted he was the thief.
He added his client had helped the victim with her financial affairs for a number of years as she didn’t have any near relatives.
The judge said: "Picking on someone with no near relatives is a common feature in these kind of cases."
In defence, Mr Howe replied: "That was never his intention. He has since paid back the money."
But the judge retorted: "Yes, after being caught."
Prosecutor Sarah Reid said six years ago, Bateman had been asked to help the woman with her financial affairs.
He was allowed to withdraw money from her account but on 29 August 2015, a Kent County Council official noted she had not paid her £1,200 care package – despite having more than £105,000 in an account in 2013.
Miss Reid said when her account was checked the following year, the victim’s savings had dwindled to £29,000.
Bateman accepted he had defrauded the family friend of £53,354, but when he was confronted about the missing money told a series of lies.
He claimed the victim had taken "very expensive holidays" and had also "gifted him" between £20,000 and £30,000.
Miss Reid said he had since been repaid the money along with £1,747.23 in lost interest.
In mitigation Mr Howe told the court since his arrest Bateman has not been able to work as a financial adviser and had to pay for his own lawyers.
Sentencing on 20 February, Judge Lowe said: "You did assist this woman and no one can be sure at what point you decided to steal from her but that is what you did.
"Between May 2011 and October 2012 you stole £53,354 from a vulnerable lady in her 80s with no intention of ever paying her back or using it for her benefit.
"It was thoroughly shameful and the fact you can no longer work as an independent financial adviser is understandable."
Bateman of Dymchurch in Kent, was given a two-year jail sentence suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work for the community.
He was also told to pay a £2,500 fine and £150 prosecution costs.