A north Belfast woman accused of conning her elderly mother out of more than £40,000 by forging her signature on cheques broke down in the witness box today (Tuesday) as she tearfully denied defrauding her mother.
Giving evidence to Belfast Crown Court on her own behalf, 49-year-old Heather Ruth Noble insisted that her mother had been “sharp as a tack” and would not have allowed her to conduct any of her affairs against her will, even while seriously ill in the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) high dependency unit after a heart attack.
Noble from Aughnabrack Road, Loanends, north of Belfast, denies two charges of theft, two of forgery and a further seven of fraud by false representation.
The case arose after Noble’s eldest brother Raymond contacted police to ask them to probe a series of 32 disputed cheques which Ms Noble alleges her mother Johnina, had authorised her to sign, in her presence and even after the pensioner had suffered a heart attack.
Mrs Noble, whose health was failing, had asked her daughter to move in with her at the house on the Aughnabrack Rd and for the defendant to buy the house.
The jury heard that when the offences came to light, an official assessment had been made that the late Mrs Noble was fit to give a statement in 2010 in which she denied giving her youngest daughter permission to sign her name on her cheques or a series of transactions at the heart of the case totalling £41,000.
Heather Noble, however, heavily disputed her mother's claims and broke down in the witness box as she recounted how she learned of her mother's death not from her family but when dropping her own daughter at school.
Under cross examination from prosecuting lawyer David McClean, Noble claimed she had an “arrangement” with her mother where she would sign cheques in her mother’s presence, with her permission and that a number of purchases, including a £1,900 medical chair, house refurbishment, electrical equipment, leather sofas, a Toyota Rav4 jeep and amounts to Heather’s children, had been at her mother's request.
She initially denied under cross-examination these transactions had been done even while her mother was in hospital after her heart attack.
Ms Noble denied the lawyer's suggestion she had informed her mother in 2008 that she was intending to sell the house and that she would have to find somewhere else to live.
The trial continues.