Bernard Young, 48, was spared prison on condition that he repays almost 36,000 pounds ($58,000), the Daily Mirror reported. A judge in Liverpool Crown Court entered the order at a proceeds of crime hearing.
Young had already pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 months, suspended for two years, and 200 hours of community service.
Prosecutors said Young began tapping his brother-in-law's bank account in 2007 while he was still married. After he and his wife, Lynn, separated, he continued to do so, keeping a key to her house and sneaking into her bedroom, where she kept the ATM card.
His wife was her brother's caretaker. Over five years, Young, in amounts ranging from $200 to $250, drew on the account weekly, amassing enough money to buy and refurbish a canal barge boat he docked in Wigan, Greater Manchester.
"Young was aware she kept her handbag in the bedroom while she was asleep," Sarah Holt, the prosecutor, said. "He went into the bedroom, went to her handbag and took the card. He made the withdrawals and then went back to the house to place the card back in the bag, which was undisturbed."
Lynn at one point told her husband she feared an intruder was getting into the house. But she then dismissed her worries as "silly."
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