Woman who set fire admits fraud charges

A SCARBOROUGH woman who tried to set herself on fire committed fraud at a charity shop weeks earlier, a court heard.

Elaine White, 42, is currently serving a two-year jail term for arson after she tried to commit suicide at her home, off Long Walk, in September.

She appeared in custody at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court to face three charges of fraud, which she admitted committing in August.

Katy Varlow, prosecuting, said that White had obtained a cheque book stolen in a burglary and had pretended to be the rightful owner’s mother.

She added: “The burglary took place while the victim was in prison. She took the cheque book to the British Heart Foundation shop.

“She then went to the Yorkshire Bank and attempted to gain funds, but she was not successful.”

White purchased goods, including a tumble dryer, coffee table and DVD player, worth a total of £378 from the charity shop.

She then tried to withdraw £200 from the Yorkshire Bank.

She did not commit the burglary in which the cheque book was obtained.

Marcus Topham, mitigating, said that his client had been told that she was permitted to use the cheque book by its owner.

He added: “She moved into a flat in Northstead and it was sparsely furnished. She was told there was the opportunity to spend some money on the cheque book. She purchased household furnishings.

“The shop never asked for a cheque guarantee card.”

Referring to his client’s unsuccessful attempt to take her own life, Mr Topham said: “She was going through a very difficult time.

“She had a mental breakdown and set fire to her flat while she has been inside. Some fortuitous people managed to rescue her.”

The court heard that White had not been convicted of a dishonesty offence since 1993, and Mr Topham said she could be dealt with by a conditional discharge or a custodial sentence to run concurrently to the one she is currently serving.

Magistrates, however, directed that While will be sent to York Crown Court for sentencing.