Woman admits to withdrawing granny’s money ‘like there was no tomorrow’
A 38-YEAR-OLD woman admitted to “taking out like there was no tomorrow”, the money from her 78-year-old grandmother’s bank accounts, stealing $40,513.39 from her, and bleeding the accounts dry.
Nadia Lawrence racked up 58 charges of theft for depriving her grandmother Nola Lawrence, a retiree from Colonarie, of sums of her money between October, 2016 and May, 2019.
Nadia, a security guard at the community centre in Colonarie, finally entered guilty pleas to the offences at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, March 30, and Prosecutor Sergeant Renrick Cato read the facts as found by the police.
Nola is the holder of two accounts, one at the First-Caribbean International Bank (CIBC), and another at RBTT Bank Caribbean Ltd, and is the sole contributor to these accounts. At the time of the offences the granddaughter was living with her grandmother.
Nola’s daughter who resides in Canada, had advised her mother that because of the distance between Colonarie and Kingstown, and her age, she should add Nadia’s name to the accounts. This was so that the granddaughter could assist her with carrying out her necessary deposits and withdrawals. The grandmother did so, and sent the defendant to make deposits to her accounts.
On October 6, 2016, Nadia deposited $982.69 into the account at RBTT Bank, but on the same day she withdrew $782.69. Since then a total of 25 withdrawals were made, amounting to $21,113.39. These transactions were done at the ATM. Likewise, at the CIBC bank, since the first withdrawal of $200 on October 31, 2016, 33 withdrawals were made from the ATM, amounting to $19,400.
Both of these accounts were “all depleted”, and none of the transactions authorized by the grandmother.
Sometime in February 2020, the grandmother became suspicious, and had a conversation with her granddaughter. In May 2020 Nola went to Kingstown for a doctor’s visit, and checked the accounts, discovering that they were depleted. Her granddaughter did not respond to her questions about this, and so the grandmother reported the matter to the Colonarie police. She also later handed over bank statements showing the withdrawals, none of which she had given permission for.
Her granddaughter was questioned by the police on June 12, 2020, and she gave a statement admitting to the offence. She first appeared in court on June 15, 2020.
“I think I started to take out the money in November, but I cannot recall what year. And from then I’ve been taking out like there was no tomorrow,” the defendant had told the police.
“I am being honest because there’s no need to tell lies. I took out from CIBC first until it was finished, then I started from RBTT,” she continued. She admitted that her grandmother never gave her permission for the withdrawals. She could not say how many times she went to the bank or what was the sum of money that she took.
“I just took the money and spent it,” the defendant revealed, “I do not know why I took the money.”
When her grandmother asked her about the money, she was ashamed, she said, which is why she didn’t answer.
Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett, had asked that the caution statement that Nadia gave to the police be read, as it would have been read had
there been a trial. During the reading of the statement, he asked the grandmother: “You want to sit down Madam?”, although it is not certain what reaction from the grandmother triggered this inquiry. The grandmother declined the offer.
“What caused you to do this to your 78-year-old grandmother, that’s the question that you have to answer to the court. You are 38, and she’s 78, you are 40 years younger than her,” the magistrate addressed the defendant.
She replied that she did not know what got into her head, noting “I was wrong”.
The issue of whether she can compensate her grandmother was dealt with. The 38-year-old makes, at the lowest, $300 a fortnight as security guard; a job which she said she has had for a year and two months. She supports a teenage daughter, and her savings amount to $200 plus, kept in a General Employees Co-operative Credit Union (GECCU) account.
Her solution in terms of how she would pay back her grandmother, is to obtain a loan from the credit union, but based on her savings, the magistrate inquired how this would be possible.
At that point, the defendant said that the manager told her she would have to reach a certain amount, but Nadia did not say what this amount would be.
“So you failed the means test, you cannot satisfy any form of compensation,” the magistrate concluded.
The 78-year-old grandmother informed that her granddaughter had taken everything. When asked how she felt about this, the elderly woman said “I cannot…” Burnett said that he couldn’t find a word to describe what was done to Nola.
“Why would a granddaughter want to do that to her grandmother, it baffles me,” he said.
“So the poor old lady thought she had money in her account, not knowing that the young granddaughter was taking out all of it. Now tell me, against that background, why this court should not send her to prison. Somebody convince me about that, no one can convince me about that,” he said.
“If the grandmother is sick, what is she now going to do? When the granddaughter has taken all of her money,” he queried.
While contemplating the sentencing guidelines that he must use to determine an appropriate sentence in the case, the judicial officer chose to send the defendant to prison until April 13, awaiting sentencing. A woman sitting in the courtroom seemed to have an emotional reaction to this.
Nadia asked to say something to Nola, telling her grandmother that she was very sorry, and asking her if she could find it in her heart to forgive her.
The grandmother told the magistrate that it’s very hard, she didn’t give permission for her to take the money, and she took it all.
“This is a hard one,” Burnett agreed, noting “ and now the complainant is going to walk away, walk out of the courtroom $40,000 gone.”