A Skipton woman living in sheltered accommodation stole the handbag of her 91- year-old neighbour and then tried to hide it, a court heard.

Patricia Emmott, 63, told paramedics and a police officer that she had taken the handbag, placed it in a carrier bag and then into a wardrobe just for safe keeping, Skipton Magistrates heard on Wednesday.

But prosecutor, Hilary Reece, said Emmott was lying, and had deliberately taken the bag thinking it might have had some money in it.

A Newton Hearing was held after the prosecution refused to accept Emmott’s guilty plea on the grounds she had been guilty of lying to officials because she had panicked, but had not deliberately stolen the bag.

The court heard that Emmott and her 91-year-old neighbour both lived in assisted living flats in Greatwood Close.

Emmott, who had moved in just three months earlier, had also asked the other woman for money, including £100 to help her and her boyfriend go to America, the court was told.

Late on June 29, Emmott had gone to the aid of the other woman who had become ill and who had alerted the emergency services.

Emmott sat with her neighbour while she was being cared for by paramedics but when a decision was made to take her to hospital, Emmott took the handbag.

Mrs Reece said Emmott was challenged by one of the ambulance men who had seen the bag hidden under Emmott’s nightdress with its strap hanging down.

Emmott disappeared back to her own flat where a police officer, summoned by the paramedics, later found the bag inside a carrier bag, inside a wardrobe.

John Kelly, for Emmott, said she had panicked after being accused of taking the bag and it was at that point that she had started to lie.

He said her intention was to look after the bag for her neighbour and she had not known what to do when accused by the ambulance man and later by the officer.

Emmott told the court her intention had been to take the handbag and follow her neighbour in a taxi to hospital and give it to her there.

She said the reason it had been discovered in a carrier bag, inside a suitcase in her wardrobe was because she had been tidying up ‘ as ladies do’ and it had been gathered up.

Asked by Mrs Reece why she could have not just carried the bag, Emmott said she did not like to carry two at the same time.

“It is absolutely nonsensical for you to say that you were trying to keep the bag safe,” Mrs Reece told Emmott.

“You were hiding it and hoping that the ambulance staff wouldn’t notice. You had no plans to go to the hospital at all.”

The court heard that the 91-year-old was now back at home and still living next door to Emmott.

Magistrates told Emmott that they did not accept her claim that it was her intention to keep the bag safe and warned her she could be facing a custodial sentence.

They adjourned sentencing for a full, all options report.