A MAN who took more than £18,000 from his mother's bank account has been spared jail.

Ronnie Benjamin Brown, aged 34 and of The Brambles in Shotton, appeared before Mold Crown Court for sentencing on Thursday.

He had admitted one offence of fraud at an earlier hearing.

Richard Edwards, prosecuting, told the court Brown has lived with his mother Maria McCarthy on and off for several years but they tended to fall out over his use of illicit drugs and money issues.

One morning in February 2019 he turned up at his mother's house and went to bed.

His mother went to work and when she returned he was gone.

When she hadn't heard from him by mid-March she began to worry for his safety and contacted the police.

She also spoke to Brown's ex-partner, who told her that a bank statement in his name had shown several accounts from his mother's bank account to his.

A call to her bank confirmed that her ISA account was empty after Brown had taken just over £18,000 out of it.

She couldn't understand how it had happened, Mr Edwards said, but then recalled there had been an instance where she thought she'd lost her bank card and Brown had helped to set up online banking on her phone. Brown later called his mother and told her he knew she'd learned of him taking the money - before asking for £500 more.

He told his mother "people from Liverpool" were threatening him and knew where his family members lived, warning that there would be "a firebomb through the window."

He begged her for the money, claiming it was for his "survival."

Mr Edwards said Ms McCarthy was angry with Brown, but that she remained worried about his mental health.

After his arrest Brown told police he had been the victim of kidnapping and that he owed money to people in Merseyside who had threatened the lives of his family members.

Simon Rogers, defending, said: "This is a deeply unpleasant offence committed against how own mother - one can't go behind that. "The background to this defendant's offending is linked with his drug misuse.

"This is a defendant who has built up significant drug debts and the money was used to satisfy that debt.

"There is perhaps now some stability in his life - he is back living with his mother and there is no doubt he is extremely fortunate that she is willing to have him back given what he has done.

"He has made real efforts to address his drug use."

Judge Timothy Petts told Brown: "You went from borrowing money from your mother to this offence - you cleaned out over £18,000. "This was disgraceful behaviour, to steal from your own mother. You have taken advantage of the relationship between you."

Brown received an eight month custodial sentence, but it was suspended for 15 months.

He must undertake 35 sessions of an accredited programme at the direction of the court, as well as 240 hours of unpaid work.