A SOCIAL worker swindled an elderly widow out of more than £16,000 both before and after her death after using her credit card.

Lisa Hoskins, 51, was employed as a social worker with Newport city council when she looked after Grace Watkins’s husband.

Following his death in 2018, the defendant continued to visit Mrs Watkins after befriending her but not in any official capacity.

She died not long after her husband and different Newport city council social workers visited her home in April 2019.

Roger Griffiths, prosecuting, said: “They found bank statements on the bed of Grace Watkins which included repeated credit card transactions.


“There were transactions made both before and after her death.”

He told Cardiff Crown Court how the police were informed and detectives started tracing the transactions.

They found CCTV footage of someone making a purchase at the Trago Mills shopping centre in Merthyr Tydfil.

Mr Griffiths said: “It clearly wasn’t Mrs Watkins.”

He added how another transaction took place at John Lewis at Bristol’s Cribbs Causeway.

Police used ANPR to prove it was Hoskins who had gone there.

The defendant, of Hanbury Road, Pontnewynydd, Pontypool, admitted eight counts of fraud.

She had one previous conviction for an unrelated matter.

Heath Edwards, representing Hoskins, said: “Mrs Watkins never felt the impact of this.”

He added how it was first thought that the government would inherit her estate but a distant relative has now been traced.

Mr Edwards said: “They are in line for a significant windfall.”

The court heard how the defendant has found a new “well-paid” job.

Judge Niclas Parry told Hoskins that, as an experienced social worker, she would have realised that Mrs Watkins was a “vulnerable” person.

He added: “You know that people come to trust you and, as in this case, they consider you as the only friend they have.

“This was a mean and despicable offence with repeated transactions over a significant period of time.

“This was detected by fine police work. They were really diligent in getting to the heart of this.”

Hoskins was jailed for 16 months, suspended for two years.

She was ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work and pay back the £16,814.10 in compensation at the rate of £250 a month.

The defendant must also hand over a £140 victim surcharge.