An arrest warrant has been issued for a conwoman who stole more than £115,000 from the brother of a former Tory minister.
Michelle Brathwaite, 48, plundered the savings of author Sir Samuel Brittan – who is the brother of former home secretary Leon Brittan – to splash out on holidays and designer clothes.
She swindled the money while acting as his carer.
The “experienced manipulator and deceiver” claimed she was too ill to attend court for sentencing on Wednesday.
Brathwaite made hundreds of purchases and transfers from Sir Samuel’s American Express card between August 2016 and April 2017.
The 85-year-old suffers from declining mental cognition and his finances were being looked after by his widowed sister-in-law, Lady Diana Brittan.
Brathwaite, who was described in a psychiatric report as a “compulsive liar”, had earned the trust of Lady Brittan in order to make the purchases.
Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith said Brathwaite had lied in police interviews and claimed to be a Cambridge graduate and lawyer.
Her case was first listed for trial on 11 June, but she said she was too unwell to attend.
After the case was transferred to Southwark Crown Court, where there is wheelchair access, the judge said the “same pattern of non-attendance and wholly inadequate explanations continued”.
The fraudster then gave evidence at the trial via video link, but was seen to be “very obviously pretending that she did not understand what was going on”.
A psychiatric report, ordered after Brathwaite claimed not to remember anything, concluded that she was most likely “feigning physical symptoms to seek leniency from the court”.
Michelle Jones, an experienced probation officer, concluded her “memory issues are selective and she is duplicitous and manipulative”.
The court also heard that she had a previous history of deception, having been convicted of fraud in 2003 when she was living under the name Ioanna Emmanouilidis.
Judge Loraine-Smith said the “time has finally come” for Brathwaite to be sentenced and she cannot continue to avoid her punishment.
Brathwaite, of Kensington and Chelsea in west London, pleaded guilty to three charges of fraud and one of theft in December.
She is due to be sentenced on Thursday.
(c) Sky News 2019: Arrest warrant for conwoman who stole £115,000 from Leon Brittan’s brother