Doncaster woman left feeling 'stressed and nervous' after discovering her former sister-in-law racked up catalogue debts of £11k in her name

A Doncaster woman has been left feeling ‘extremely stressed and nervous’ after her former sister-in-law racked up catalogue debts of almost £11,000 in her name.

Tuesday, 1st October 2019, 1:54 pm
Barrowclough was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court during a hearing held at Sheffield Crown Court on September 25

Jill Barrowclough’s fraudulent actions were brought to light, after her former sister-in-law was contacted by Lowell Financial Ltd on April 16 last year concerning purchases she had not made, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

“She was told she had an outstanding debt from an account registered to her name and address. She knew nothing about this at all. She was told that the items ordered had been sent to an address in Castleford, which she recognised as being the address of her former sister-in-law, someone she had not seen since September 2011,” said Gordon Stables, prosecuting.

The complainant subsequently discovered Barrowclough had taken out accounts in her name between 2015 and 2018 with nine different catalogue companies, including Simply Be, Jacamo, JD Williams and Shop Direct, totting up a bill of £10,922.95.

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She contacted the police, and Barrowclough was arrested and interviewed in November 2018.

Mr Stables said: “She admitted she had opened some accounts in her ex sister-in-law’s name but said she had been re-paying the accounts and always intended to make full re-payments.

“She didn’t know how much had been spent by her, and put it at between £5,000 and £6,000, clearly it was a lot more.

“She said she hadn’t done anything wrong, and didn’t know it was illegal to take out accounts in someone else’s name.”

In a statement read to the court, Barrowclough’s victim said she had spent ‘hundreds of hours’ on the phone ensuring she would not be liable to pay the debts racked up her in name, and attempting to close down the fraudulent accounts.

“This whole incident has been detrimental to my mental health and has made me feel extremely stressed and nervous,” said the woman, adding: “I had never had a bad relationship with Jill so was saddened to learn she did this to me. This has caused me so much worry and distress and I feel it has had a lasting impact on me.”

Barrowclough, of Woodside, Castleford pleaded guilty to an offence of fraud by false representation at an earlier hearing.

Jessica Randell, defending, told the court that Barraclough’s relationship with her former husband, and the complainant’s brother, came to an end ‘as a result of convictions for serious offences’.

Ms Randell said the offences came about after Barrowclough attempted to take out catalogue accounts in her own name but was refused.

“She took them out in her ex sister-in-law’s name, believing she would be able to make the payments, and that she would never find out. She fell behind on the minimum repayments, and the complainant found out about this offending,” said Ms Randell.

She told the court that Barrowclough juggled a full-time job with caring for her poorly partner as well as her grandson, both of whom would be punished should she be sent to prison.

“The defendant says her partner simply wouldn’t cope without her,” said Ms Randell.

Judge Michael Slater sentenced Barrowclough to 14 months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered her to complete 120 hours of unpaid work as well as a 15-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

“Your victim had the sustained task of untangling the web of deceit you put in place, she found it extremely upsetting it was someone she had known and got on well with,” said Judge Slater.

He added: “It’s been a close-run thing, but having regard to what has been said about you, and what I have read about you, I’m prepared to take, on balance, a merciful view.”