THE KINDNESS OF NEIGHBOURS ; EXCLUSIVE: NEIGHBOURS COME TO RESCUE OF WIDOWER WHOSE BANK ACCOUNT WAS RAIDED BY A TRUSTED FRIEND BY RACHEL GARDNERNeighbours rally to help fraud victim CHRISTMAS was looking bleak for Norman Cornish . He trusted a friend with his bank card and she repaid him by stealing Pounds 6,000 and landing him in debt. But his faith in human nature has been restored after neighbours rallied round and dropped off a Christmas card - containing Pounds 1,000. The 87-year-old's world fell apart when he discovered trusted friend Karen Whittaker , whose children call him grandad, had been taking cash from his account without his knowledge. Although the 43-year-old had helped the pensioner with his shopping once or twice, he admits his "downfall" came when it snowed at the start of the year and he couldn't get out to draw cash from the bank. He asked Whittaker if she could be trusted with his debit card and Pin number and she reassured him everything would be fine. TURN TO PAGE 4 Mr Cornish, a former doorman who lives in Ellsworth Road in Henbury, had no idea anything was amiss until he received a bank statement saying his account was overdrawn for the first time in his life. More than Pounds 6,000 had been taken out of his account in numerous cash withdrawals putting him Pounds 300 in the red. It was then that he realised what had happened and Whittaker was arrested. She pleaded guilty at Bristol Crown Court on December 11 to fraud by false representation and was sentenced to a one-year community order, to include 150 hours unpaid work. She was told to pay back just Pounds 500 in compensation to Mr Cor nish. But Mr Cornish , who has lived alone since his wife Marion died from Alzheimer's disease two years ago, has never received an apology, despite the fact Whittaker lives just across the road. FROM PAGE 1 The whole episode has caused him stress and he has visited the doctor for depression on several occasions. "I'm not in good health anyway but this whole thing has really got me down," he said. "When my wife was around we treated Karen like family. We've known her for years. "Her kids called me grandad and she was a trusted friend. I'd been paying her to do my cleaning and she was helping me out with shopping too. "I never imagined she would do this. I still don't know why." Although he is still down, Mr Cornish's spirits were lifted when a neighbour, from nearby Clavell Road , dropped off a Christmas card. Mr CHRISTMAS SPIRIT Has anything happened to you to cheer up a difficult Christmas? Let us know at BRISTOLPOST.CO.UK ONLINE Cornish said he nearly dropped to the floor when he opened the card to find Pounds 1,000 in Pounds 20 and Pounds 10 notes. "I got the shock of my life," he said. "A young girl had knocked on my door and given me the card but I didn't open it until she left. "I couldn't believe the neighbours had rallied round like this, and just before Christmas too." Lorna Griffith , 57, partner of Mr Cornish's son Martyn, told the Bristol Post : "Norman's faith in humanity has been restored. "The neighbours were so kind to collect all this money for him. "It's devastating to trust someone and then have it thrown back in your face, and he was in a really bad way. "He can't get his head around it. But this has really made him smile - it shows people really care about him." COMMENT: PAGE 11 Norman Cornish " I couldn't believe the neighbours had rallied round like this, and just before Christmas too. "
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