A WOMAN who admitted stealing £15,000 from her father-in-law has been told to expect a prison sentence.
Releasing 53-year-old Marie Cross on bail at Downpatrick Crown Court, Judge Piers Grant warned the thief not to take her release as any indication of the likely sentence.
"This is a serious offence, this is a mean offence," said the judge.
"You were in a position of trust against an elderly man and this is a substantial amount of money – in those circumstances you would normally end up in custody."
Cross, from Cedar Grove in Holywood, admitted stealing from George Cross on dates between October 10, 2010 and November 6, 2012.
There was some confusion in the court after Cross initially pleaded guilty to a further charge of committing fraud by abuse of position on the same dates, but that offence was then left on the books after an application by prosecution barrister Sam Magee.
Defence lawyer Mark Heaney said while Cross had admitted to the theft of the money, there was "an issue regarding the value of the theft" between prosecution and defence.
Judge Grant ordered that by next Tuesday the parties should submit a signed "agreed statement of facts" in the case outlining exactly what happened.
Ordering pre-sentence probation reports on Cross, to be served along with a psychologists report, the judge adjourned sentencing until April 7.