A THIEF befriended an elderly woman before stealing nearly £35,000 from her over a ten-year period.

Jacqueline Cooper took the victim, who was in her 80s, shopping and to the doctors, building up a trusted friendship over several years but the woman's family discovered she had been taking money from her account for a decade.

Cooper, aged 58, admitted stealing £34,400 at court on Monday.

The court heard she befriended the woman more than 20 years ago and was trusted with her house key and given access to her bank card.

The offences happened in Worcester, where her crime was discovered after the victim received a letter from her bank offering an overdraft facility and showed it to her daughter after being puzzled as to why she would need it.

It was at this point, in 2014, numerous unauthorised transactions on the victim's bank statement were found and the offences were reported to West Mercia Police.

An investigation took place, and financial analysis showed the estimated money stolen from the victim over an eight to ten-year period was £34,400.

Cooper, of Linden Road, Worcester, was arrested in 2014 and later charged in 2016.

Detective Sergeant Lesley Fisher, who investigated the case and had contact throughout with the victim, said: "The minute I took this case on, I knew I would do everything I could to establish what had taken place and uncover evidence of offences.

"This could have been anyone's mother or elderly relative, and a result like this makes me very pleased for the family and proud - it is what we earn our money for."

The trial took place at Hereford Crown Court and Cooper will be sentenced on January 4, 2019.