A WOMAN jailed for stealing £35,000 from an elderly friend has been ordered to pay back every penny.

Jackie Cooper was told she may have to sell her house to clear the debt or face longer in jail when she appeared at Worcester Crown Court yesterday. Cooper was jailed for two years in January after she took the money from a Worcester woman in her 80s over a ten-year period.

The 59-year-old of Langdale Drive, Warndon, Worcester, appeared for a proceeds of crime application to recover the money she stole.

Andrew Wallace, prosecuting, said the benefit figure from the offence was £35,000 and the available amount the defendant had in assets was ‘slightly more than that’.

The judge ruled she must pay the money back within three months or face six months in jail in default. Michael Aspinall, for Cooper, said: “The available amount is tied up in property that is lived in as I understand.”

The property was said to be owned by the defendant and her estranged husband.

Judge Jim Tindal said of the payment: “The hope is that this can be done without selling the house.”

As previously reported Cooper, then of Linden Road, Worcester, took £34,400 from the woman's bank account and was only caught when the victim received a letter from her bank in 2014 offering her an overdraft. The victim's family then found out that there had been numerous unauthorised bank transactions and reported the matter to the police.

Detective Sergeant Lesley Fisher, the investigating officer, said at the time: "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."

Cooper was arrested in 2014 and charged in 2016. The thief had known the victim for more than 20 years and had established a strong friendship with her. She was trusted with her house key and bank card. The pair went to the shops and doctors together.