An unlicensed conveyancer who stole almost £20,000 from a client has been ordered to pay back just over a quarter of the cash.
Failure to do so within a set period could see her put behind bars, a judge warned.
Doreen Conroy, from Leigh, was sentenced to a suspended jail term last summer and has now re-appeared back in court for a Proceeds of Crime hearing.
It was to have been a contested hearing, but at the last minute an out-of-court settlement was reached.
It was agreed that Conroy had benefited to the tune of £20,000 but only has realisable assets of £6,270.
Conroy has cashed in a pension fund but Liverpool Crown Court heard that she only has just over £6,000 left as she spent the rest of it on debts, including mortgage arrears, and on furnishings.
She also bought a Ford Focus which is included in the realisable asset figure.
The judge, Recorder Stephen Bedford, ordered 59-year-old Conroy, of of Stout Street, Leigh, to pay back the cash within three months or face four months’ imprisonment in default.
The money is to be paid in compensation to her victim, Paul Melling.
When she was sentenced the court heard that she had been operating as a sole trader under the name DC Conveyancing Ltd and Mr Melling was recommended to use her by his mortgage adviser.
He used her services and successfully applied for a £53,500 loan and on July 12, 2012 it was transferred to his solicitors and after taking their fee the remaining £53,272 was transferred to Conroy’s client account.
Two weeks later she transferred £33,500 and when Mr Melling asked why it had not all been paid she said it was an interim payment.
She said she would pay the rest soon but that her “head was a mess” as her father had recently died, said Sarah Griffin, prosecuting.
After further weeks of chasing her for the balance she agreed to send it in two cheques but when they arrived he correctly suspected they would bounce as the signatures were different and they were not honoured.
Judge David Aubrey, QC told her when he sentenced her to 12 months suspended for two years that it “against my better judgement” not to send her to prison.
He also told her, “in my judgement you cannot lie straight in bed.
“You are a dishonest woman and you remain a dishonest woman.”