A highly-respected health worker who conned her best friends out of £35,000 has been jailed for two years.
Irene Kitto, 57, borrowed £35,552 from three close friends on the false premise that she would repay them when she received a lump-sum NHS pension pay-out.
A court heard how the brazen fraudster showed her friends forged documents claiming that she was entitled to a “substantial sum” – in the hundreds of thousands.
Kitto’s friends, Denise Teasdale, Linda Cochrane and Angela Trotter, had no idea they were being duped because she had told each one not to tell the others that she had received any loans.
The con-artist’s plans began to unravel in July 2018 when she was supposed to meet Ms Cochrane at a local bank to repay the money she had borrowed but failed to turn up after trying to take her own life by an overdose.
The generous friend had lent her £17,000 between September 2016 and October 2017 before she began to run out of money.
She said she now realises the “friendship must’ve all been a sham”.
Kitto from Scarborough, North Yorks., told her victim she was due an inordinately-large pension because she had been paying bigger contributions after her husband fell ill and was unable to work.
Denise Teasdale, who first met Kitto when she was a student nurse, lent her £9,952, trying to help her friend, despite being so concerned as to ask her to sign an IOU.
Crafty Kitto “rather cynically” wrote an addendum to the IOU instructing her husband – who was blissfully unaware of the ruse – to “please pay her out of my pension”.
Ms Teasdale who has received counselling to help her cope with her friend’s betrayal, took out a large loan to lend Kitto money and everything she now earns is used to repay that debt.
She said: “I looked up to her as a role model.
“I felt sorry for her that she could be treated so badly and was having to fight for her pension. What she has done has affected me emotionally and financially.”
Ms Trotter loaned her Kitto £8,600 in 17 transactions.
Ms Trotter said: “I believed that she was one of my trusted friends. I viewed her as a woman who had been dealt a bad hand.
“I believed her without question
“I feel devastated and annoyed that someone I trusted so completely could be so cruel. I feel so hurt and bewildered by it all.”
Prosecutor Jonathan Sharp said that Kitto, who worked in the NHS for over 30 years, had been paying into a pension scheme but had “little or no” pension entitlement.
Mr Sharp said: “When Linda Cochrane’s money was about to run out, [Kitto] moved on to two further victims, Angela Trotter and Denise Teasdale
“She said there was a problem in being paid out, so she asked these three people repeatedly for loans to tide her over.”
York Crown Court was told: “The defendant persuaded Denise Teasdale to pay £4,500 for a holiday for four people to celebrate the defendant’s retirement.”
Kitto even told her friends she had hired a solicitor to iron out “difficulties there had been in in the lump-sum being paid out”.
“She gave various dates when the money was supposed to be due, fobbing her victims off and repeatedly asking her victims not to tell anyone else that she was borrowing money off that individual,” said Mr Sharp.
Kitto owned up immediately following her arrest for the grand hoax.
She admitted three counts of fraud between August 2016 and July 2018.
Defence barrister Stephen Robinson said Kitto had duped her friends after falling into financial difficulties.
Judge Andrew Stubbs QC jailed Kitto for two years for the “cruel” deception.