Woman, 61, took $71,000 from elderly mother

A MACKAY woman took $71,000 from her elderly mother because she said she was entitled to it.

Ellen Marie Cunningham, 61, was ordered to serve 12 months of a three-year jail sentence for fraud.

After Judge Julie Dick handed down the sentence and left the court room, Cunningham held the hand of her husband of 41 years through an opening in the glass that surrounded the dock.

She told her sister-in-law, "I'll be ok. It's only 12 months. I'll be ok."

Cunningham had been power of attorney for her mother so was in a position of trust when she made 156 transactions from her mother's account between May 2009 and November 2014.

She'd been aged 55 to 60 years old at the time and had no criminal history, crown prosecutor Clayton Wallace said.

It was "persistent offending".

When confronted by police she said she'd been "paying herself a wage", that she was "entitled to it" and "could not give a (expletive) what are you going to do about it", the District Court in Mackay was told.

Formerly of Proserpine, Cunningham had a problem with gambling and "squandered" most of the money on her addiction, Mr Wallace said.

Her gambling addiction began about 20 years ago as a form of escapism, defence barrister Bronwyn Hartigan said.

Family resentment resulted in her taking her mother's money because she was "justified in her own mind," Ms Hartigan said.

Her full and frank admission to police and early plea show remorse, she said.

Cunningham hasn't been allowed to visit her mum in 12 months, she said.

She will have two years jail hanging over her once released.


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