A MOTHER of an eight year old autistic boy has been jailed for fraud.

Elizabeth Ann Treneer, aged 38, was sentenced alongside her own mother for fraud at Truro Crown Court today.

Miss Treneer, of Chapel Meadow, Perranwell Station, was sentenced to 40 months in prison, while Angela Colleen Treneer, aged 72, of Cogos Park, Mylor Bridge, received a 20-month jail term.

In sentencing, Judge Robert Linford said: "When the game was up you both lied and lied in an attempt to squirm out of responsibility.

"Elizabeth, you stole to fund your lifestyle including foreign holidays, while tenants were worried about being homeless and landlords went without their money. You twisted, squirmed, lied and obfuscated."

Mrs Treneer had run Premier Property Management, based in Truro, for 20 years, before her daughter became involved in the business in 2007.

It was from 2009 that deposits and rentals began to disappear as the pair "robbed Peter to pay Paul", said prosecutor Alexander Greenwood.

Miss Treneer, who wept in the dock, made payments from the business account into her own and over an eight-year period the pair had defrauded £266,000 from more than 40 clients.

Mr Greenwood highlighted several clients who had been victims, including a family who lost £54,806 and almost £30,000 from a woman in her late 80s, who was an acquaintance of Mrs Treneer.

Mr Greenwood added: "Once Ann became involved, she was at the heart of the lies and deceit which characterised the business."

He said that one of the victims said his relationship with Ann was characterised by her "apologising, with blame being attributed and false promises of payment".

The public gallery in the courtroom was packed with other victims whose money was taken by the two women.

Cornwall Council's Trading Standards officers investigated the firm after a BBC documentary which highlighted the operation in 2017.

They visited the firm's new office in Newquay and found a note on the door which simply said "Gone out, back later".

When interviewed at a later date, Miss Treneer replied "no comment" to all the officers' questions, while her mother said she had not been involved in the business since 2015.

Mr Greenwood added: "They were filtering away funds, with Ann lying in almost every aspect of the business in order to commit crimes and fund her lifestyle."

"Colleen abused her position to prop up her and her daughter's lifestyle and must have been aware of her daughter's lies, which she chose to ignore to keep the balls in the air for the business."

Defending Miss Treneer, Jason Beal said there were three areas of mitigation.

Firstly, she was of previous good character and secondly that she pleaded guilty back in October. The third element was the doctor's report on her son, who is on the autistic spectrum and has "a number of issues".

Mr Beale said that Miss Treneer had brought up her son after she had split from the father and that separation from him would be "keenly felt by her".

He said that she admitted she had got "lost in a realm of lies and destruction", adding that given the large number of victims, it had not been deliberate attempt to seek out vulnerable clients.

Julia Cox, defence counsel for Mrs Treneer, said that her age and deteriorating health should be taken into consideration. Also, her husband of 50 years does not have good mobility.

"He will struggle in her absence and she will struggle in his," she said.

In sentencing Miss Treneer to two counts of fraud and one of perverting the course of justice and Mrs Treneer to one charge of fraud by abuse of position, Judge Linford said: "Many rentals and deposits designed to protect properties were taken over a protracted period of time - it is dishonesty on an industrial scale.

"You fobbed people off with excuses including an 80-plus lady with whom Mrs Treneer was acquainted."

After the women had been taken into custody, a date of Friday, September 27 was set for a confiscation hearing, which will determine the amount that the women will have to pay to the victims.