A WOMAN who defrauded a care home out of more than £67,000 over four years did not benefit from her crimes as she was under a "malign influence" in the form of an abusive partner, said a judge.

Hannah Solomons, 38, used her position as accounts manager for the Millbrook residential care home in Pontllanfraith to siphon off the money during 2010-14.

She pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by false representation, having overpaid herself by a total of £38,929.71 between 2010 and 2014, and having made 11 payments totalling £28,645.26 between March and July 2012 into the account of a man she was in a relationship with.

A sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court was told that Solomons had been through a "horrific" ordeal at the hands of her former partner, and has only recently undergone extensive ribcage reconstruction surgery required as a result of injuries she sustained in an assault by him in 2013.

"Whatever can be held against her, what she has been through is horrifying," said defence counsel Meirion Davies, who added that Solomons has since changed her name and address.

"I am not even going to give the slightest hint as to whether she is still living in south Wales or not," he told Judge Jeremy Jenkins.

Mr Davies also criticised the length of time it has taken to bring the case to court. Solomons was interviewed by police in July 2015 when she made admissions as to what she had done, yet had to wait more than four years to reach the sentencing stage. She had only formally pleaded guilty in court last April.

"It is now 50 months after she was interviewed.Something has clearly gone dramatically wrong somewhere, that it has taken the better part of four-and-a-half years to get here," said Mr Davies, who called the delay "inexcusable".

The hearing was told, by prosecuting counsel Marion Lewis, that Solomons' wrongdoing came to light only in summer 2014, when Gwent Police, who were investigating another matter, found discrepancies concerning Millbrook's finances, and its accounts were subsequently checked.

Mr Davies said Solomons' offences were not sophisticated, and "were unlikely to avoid close examination".

He said that in the time since they came to light, Solomons has "done a lot to put her life in order", including earning a degree.

Judge Jenkins imposed a 15-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered Solomons to undertake a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

He told her she had "dishonestly siphoned" the money from the home's finances, but was satisfied she had not benefited financially.

"Had I thought otherwise, you would be going into custody. But I am quite satisfied you were being controlled and coerced," said judge Jenkins.

"This was a rather crude attempt by you to get money to the man who, I have no doubt, was controlling your life in a horrible way.

"He was a malign influence on you, and you found yourself in what was a highly toxic relationship with him, during the course of which he beat you on several occasions, inflicting very serious bodily injuries."