Thieving cleaner faked NHS letters to dodge 'dreaded day' in court - but jetted off on honeymoon

Karla Hood
Karla Hood -Credit:Cleveland Police

A woman who faked NHS letters to dodge attending court jetted off on at least four holidays, including her honeymoon.

Karla Michelle Hood claimed her serious medical condition prevented her from facing her actions over stealing cash and jewellery while working as a cleaner. But, with the help of her Facebook account, her falsehoods were exposed and she has been locked up for her deceit.

Teesside Crown Court heard that in October 2020, the 41-year-old had a job as a cleaner and while in a customer's house stole an engagement ring.

Anthony Pettengell, prosecuting, said Hood then told the cleaning company she worked for that she was going to put the victim's keys through her letterbox while she was on holiday. However, instead she let herself into the house and stole £40 in cash. At some point another two rings were also stolen, the Middlesbrough court heard.

He said the distraught victim had lost sleep over 'losing her engagement ring' and had searched the house for it. The jewellery was eventually traced to a Ramsden shop.

Although Hood, of Grange Avenue, Billingham, admitted theft and burglary in early 2021, before she could be sentenced she was involved in a car crash in March 2021 which resulted in serious injuries, including having to have her leg in a brace. What followed over more than two years was Hood making numerous false claims about why she couldn't attend court to be sentenced, these included submitting four fake NHS letters saying she was unfit.

One letter claimed she was having a procedure and needed bedrest, another that she was having her leg brace removed - when in fact this had been done some months earlier - and another saying she was bedbound and unable to bear weight on her leg. However an investigation showed that in May 2022 her Facebook account revealed she was jetting off to Valencia, Spain, on honeymoon.

There later followed two trips to Florence and another to Alicante. She also mentioned she was working. Mr Pettengell said the lies had caused two years of delays to the court.

The court heard that Hood, who admitted perverting the course of justice, has 33 previous convictions for 94 offences, including a large number for fraud.

File picture: Karla Hood
File picture: Karla Hood -Credit:Evening Gazette

Jonathan Walker, mitigating, said Hood had in fact suffered a 'grotesque injury' and was unfit for court for a period of time. He said she got a taste for court cases being adjourned and then wrote the letters.

He said she was not trying to avoid her sentence, just delay it. He said she was also concerned about who would look after her teenage daughter if she went to prison.

Mr Walker said: "All she has effectively done is put off the dreaded day." He went to say: "All that has happened is that justice has been delayed and has affected the defendant enormously."

Judge Deborah Sherwin, said she accepted that Hood was trying to delay justice and not avoid it, but had caused delays to the administration of justice when the court was under a lot of pressure. Hood was sentenced to nine months in prison for burglary and theft and a further 25 months for perverting the course of justice.

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