A COUPLE who stole nearly £55,000 from a trusting elderly relative have been found guilty of theft.

Jane and Michael White plundered widow Olive Cutler’s bank account after Michael White was given power of attorney when she became too ill to manage her own financial affairs.

Mrs Cutler, who is in her 80s and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, is a resident at a North Dorset care home.

A jury of eight women and four men at Bournemouth Crown Court took just two hours and 50 minutes to find the couple guilty of stealing £54,722 from Mrs Cutler between June 1, 2006 and January 31, 2011.

They will be sentenced on Friday, September 28 when probation reports have been prepared. During the trial the court heard the Whites, of Berkeley Road, Pimperne, near Blandford, allowed Mrs Cutler to live with them following the death of her husband in 2003.

Her home was sold after she moved into a care home and the proceeds paid into her bank account to pay her care fees.

The offences came to light when Michael White applied to Dorset County Council for financial assistance for Mrs Cutler in 2010.

Examination of her bank account revealed large sums of cash had been paid out to White.

“Her bank statements showed that cheques had been written on a fairly regular basis to him for large sums,” said prosecutor Carolyn Branford-Wood.

The court was also told Mrs Cutler’s mental health has deteriorated so much she is unaware her home has been sold.

The couple were remanded on unconditional bail until the next hearing