Cambrian News photographer

AN ABERYSTWYTH woman used cheques belonging to a friend to gain over £9,000 for herself, a court heard.

The Cambrian News reported “Charlene Louise Howland, of Room 2, Y Fron, 13 Corporation Street, used cheques belonging to Clive Richards.

Prosecutor Rhian Jones said tests found Howland’s fingerprints on one of the eight cheques used to put money into her account from Mr Richards’ account.

Howland pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation between 1 September 2015 and 1 January 2016.

Ms Jones said Howland had been friends with Mr Richards, who has since passed away, while they were both living in Brecon and that eight cheques had been used to pay a total of £9,400 into Howland’s account.

When Mr Richards contacted his bank, they froze his account and a forensic investigation found Howland’s fingerprints on one of the cheques.

An examination showed that money had been transferred from Howland’s main account to a savings account in her name, with the amounts matching payments leaving Mr Richards’ account, shortly after the cheques had been paid in.

However, during an interview Howland, 33, said she didn’t know how the money had ended up in her account and told police it was either a loan or compensation from an accident, but could not provide any more details.

Defence solicitor Alison Mathias said the offences had taken place around two-and-a-half years ago and that, while Howland was pleading guilty, the defence disputed the amount said to have been taken.

Howland claimed that it was around £1,000 less than the prosecution said.

Howland still maintained she didn’t know why the money was paid into her account, but said that she admitted the fraud charge as she accepted she had spent the money when it was in her account.

Ms Mathias said, since returning to Aberystwyth, Howland had started receiving help from different agencies and was looking to improve things.

She said: “She’s trying her best to put her past behind her.”

Ms Mathias said Howland was sorry for the incident, especially as Mr Richards had been a friend.

While presiding magistrate Haydn Davey said it was “highly improbable” that Howland didn’t know how the money had got into her bank account, a 12-month community order was imposed.

As part of that order Howland will have to complete 15 rehabilitation activity requirement days, 20 thinking skill programme sessions and will be subject to a curfew between 8pm and 8am for eight weeks.

Howland will also pay costs totalling £170″ here.

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