Cleaner forged checks from disabled gran cashing thousands into her bank


Michaela Reeves, 31, stole checks from friar Olive Watmough, who was in her 80s, and cashed them in her own bank account while working for her as a cleaner

Michaela Reeves stole £8,400 from a frail grandmother while working for her as a cleaner
Michaela Reeves stole £8,400 from a frail grandmother while working for her as a cleaner

A former horse riding instructor stole £8,400 from a frail grandmother while working as her cleaner.

Michaela Reeves, 31, stole four checks from Olive Watmough after finding the bank book in a box next to her bed and then cashed them in her own bank account.

A judge said it was “difficult if not impossible to imagine a more serious breach of trust for a vulnerable old lady in her own home”.

Reeves, from Ashton-under-Lyne, Tameside, claimed that a man had stolen the checks during a burglary at the home in Oldham.

The former equestrian center manager denied theft and four counts of fraud – but was found guilty following a trial, reports Manchester Evening Live.

She broke down in tears as she was handed her suspended prison sentence by the judge, according to the publication.

Michaela Reeves used to work as a horse riding instructor
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Michaela Reeves/ Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd)

The court heard how Reeves made the checks out in increasing sums
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Michaela Reeves/ Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd)

Mrs Watmough, who was aged in her 80s, passed away before the case reached court.

During the scam, Reeves filled out increasing four-figure sums on the Yorkshire Bank payment slips and forged Mrs Watmough’s signature.

A court heard she waited several weeks before banking each one day apart in a bid to avoid triggering alerts.

Three payments – for £1,900, £2,700 and £3,800 – cleared into her account but the court heard Reeves was caught when bank officials blocked a fourth deposit for £7,800 and began investigating.

When Mrs Watmough found out about the thefts, she was said to be “devastated” and told police “you just don’t think someone you trust would do this.”

The bank covered the losses and Reeves was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years.

The court heard how Mrs Watmough had a disability and was unable to get around the house
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Michaela Reeves/ Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd)

Judge Recorder Graham Wells said: ”Your job was to clean her house and help her. You had unsupervised access to all areas of the house.

”As a cleaner, you were trusted, yet you searched for and found those checks and you stole them from the book as part of a cunning plan.

“You made them out in increasing sums with time between them to try no doubt to slip them past the eyes of the bank and Mrs Watmough.

”It was several days and weeks after you had stolen those checks, that you put the first one through.”

In a statement before her death, Mrs Watmough described her ordeal as “devastating.”

The thefts took place between December 2017 and February 2018 after Mrs Watmough hired Reeves via an agency.

Prosecutor Paul Dockery said: ”Mrs Watmough had a disability which meant she was unable to get around the house and clean.

“In the course of working at that home, four checks went missing and were later used by the defendant and made out to her.

Reeves was handed a suspended prison sentence
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Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd.

”Three transactions went through – the fourth did not. The last one was stopped by the bank.

“All the money was returned to the family by the bank, which made good Mrs Watmough’s losses.

”When the jury returned their verdict, they offered their condolences to Mrs Watmough’s family.

“In her reaction to the offending Mrs Watmough said ‘you just don’t think someone you trust would do this’.”

Reeves has a 2006 caution for dishonesty, the court heard.

Keith Harrison, defending, said: ”She suffered significant stress whilst waiting for this case to be dealt with and it has had an impact on her mental health. She wants to put this behind her.

“Despite the fact she denies the offence, she realizes the court has to respect the jury’s verdict.”

Reeves was also ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and 20 rehabilitation requirement days.

She will face a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act at a later date.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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