A MIDDLE-AGED man, who stole thousands of pounds from his elderly, ill mother, has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Bradford Crown Court heard that Robert McDonough misused his Power of Attorney to filter off benefit money intended for his mother's care.

The court heard that Claire McDonough's welfare was not affected by the theft of the money and her son had cared for and supported her for years.

But 53-year-old McDonough was told by Judge Colin Burn: "It is clear you let your greed, or your needs that drove your greed, overcome your sense of honesty and conscience."

Prosecutor Michael Smith said 89-year-old Mrs McDonough moved fromBirmingham to North Yorkshire to be close to her son and at first lived in sheltered accommodation in Grassington.

But her health deteriorated and she was diagnosed with vascular dementia.

In January 2013 McDonough was given Power of Attorney for his mother, but the council continued to provide care for her, due to concerns about her welfare, and in March she was moved to Threshfield Court care home in Threshfield. Mrs McDonough's care was subsidised and she received £4,000 compensation for the move.

By June, £4,000 arrears had built up on her care, which was not being regularly paid.

Benefits payments were being paid into the account of the defendant's partner, and police were called in.

Mr Smith said withdrawals from Mrs McDonough's account of £7,645 had been identified.

McDonough, of East Lane, Embsay, who appeared in court on crutches, pleaded guilty to theft.

His barrister, Robin Frieze, said the money was spent on every day things rather than luxuries. His client had been his mother's carer for a great deal of his adult life. He said the loser in the theft was the State.

Mr Frieze said: "He was very careful to make sure his mother did not suffer, physically or emotionally. There was never any risk of her care being compromised.

"He did not manipulate his mother's care to create circumstances in which the theft could be carried out."

Mr Frieze said McDonough had very significant health problems.

Judge Burn told McDonough he had demonstrated appalling behaviour. But he said it was clear the defendant had had his mother's interests at heart for a significant period of his life.

McDonough was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment suspended for two years, with a four-month curfew between 9pm and 7am.