Asha Dawes, 22, took so much from her grandparents behind their backs that they were left ‘skeletal’ and stranded in Spain, Hove Crown Court heard today.
She broke down and cried in the dock as she heard heart-breaking statements from the members of her family that she had betrayed.
Dawes, of Nelson Road in Goring, pleaded guilty to defrauding the grandparents who had adopted her and her aunt and uncle out of £132,585.49, the court heard.
Prosecutor Natasha Dardashti said: “The defendant over a period of time spread a web of lies, claiming to have cancer, claiming to have a large medical payout.
“She created fake documents and sent false bank records to support her story.”
The prosecutor said Dawes told her family she was dying of cancer.
They gave her £5,000 to pay for experimental treatment in America – treatment that did not exist, the court heard.
Ms Dardashti told the court that the fraud figure on the indictment against Dawes was £132,585.49, though the theft may have been ‘slightly less than that’ in reality.
A statement from Dawes’ grandmother Shirley Pinder, who raised Dawes with her husband John, was read out in court.
She said: “I have been absolutely destroyed. I do not want to go out the front door.
“I loved Asha as a daughter and it is really hard to understand that for years she has manipulated us.
“I do not know how long she has treated us as something to just use and dispose of.”
Mrs Pinder described how Dawes had spun lies about their son Gary so that they suspected him of being involved in crime.
“Asha told me she was going to die within months. I believed her.
“I fought for her. I protected her.
“She was our little angel but everything she was doing to help us was to make it easier to steal from us.”
In his statement, her husband John Pinder, said: “Asha lived with us from the age of ten years old. We brought her up as if she was our own daughter.”
Mr Pinder told the court how she encouraged him and his wife Shirley to sell their home and move to Spain, and then stole from them.
“We became aware that there was an issue, money had been removed from our account.
“We didn’t even have enough money to fund our return flight from Spain.
“I want to see Asha go to prison. That is the only way she will learn her lesson.”
In a statement on behalf of himself and his wife, Dawes’ uncle Nicholas Young said they are ‘absolutely devastated’.
He added: “What Asha has done will echo for the rest of our lives and after.
“She used our dreams against us.
“She led us blindfolded to the edge and then she pushed us in.”
Mr Young described how Dawes had borrowed a large sum of money from them and gone on to encourage them to sell their house and move to Portugal.
All the while, he said, she knew she would not be able to pay them back.
He told the court how when he had seen Dawes’ grandparents in Spain they were ‘skeletal’ and did not have anything to eat.
Mr young added: “Although we have managed to save our home we cannot afford the repairs it needs.
“The approaching winter will be cold, wet and unpleasant.
“We blame ourselves for believing her lies.”
Defence counsel Charlotte Morrish said: “This is an extremely emotional hearing for everybody involved.
“I can’t give a satisfactory answer as to where the money has gone.”
She told the court how Dawes was worried about what would happen to her three-year-old son.
But Miss Morrish added: “It is her that has put her son in the position that he is in.
“She will have to live with the consequences of her actions.”
She asked that Dawes be given full credit for her guilty pleas, and that her previous good character be taken into account.
Sentencing Dawes, judge Shani Barnes said: “I have rarely heard such devastating victim impact statements.
“I have seldom read the extraordinary lengths you went to garner control of them financially, emotionally and to have left such a wake of devastation in your path.
“Whilst your mother and father had their own difficulties they [your grandparents] took you in and gave you all the love in the world they could muster.
“Taking this money from these people has left them devastated and homeless and destitute.
“It is irreparable.”
Judge Barnes took into account Dawes’ guilty plea.
She sentenced her for four years for each offence, to run at the same time.
A confiscation order in the sum of £1 was made, meaning that if she acquires any assets in the future the court seek to claim money back.