Woman tried to burn sister alive in "ruthless" attempt to hide theft of €191,000

Cathy Bartlett live a luxurious "fantasy" lifestyle funded by fraud against her family

A woman has been jailed for 25 years for trying to burn her sister alive in a "ruthless and breaktaking" bid to hide the theft of €191,000 from her family.

Cathy Bartlett, 30, lived a luxurious "fantasy" lifestyle as she committed fraud against her sister and stole over €55,000 from her father.

She gave her sister Rachael sleeping tablets and alcohol on April 7, the night she set fire to their mother's house in Bartley, Hampshire.

Winchester Crown Court heard Bartlett torched the New Forest property to stop the fraud being discovered.

She stole the money while working as financial manager for her sister's company.

The judge, Jane Miller QC, told Bartlett her actions had been "completely ruthless"

"Quite frankly you are evil. You accepted in your evidence your behaviour was cunning, calculating and devious."

Bartlett was sentenced for attempted murder, 10 counts of fraud coming to €132,000, and one of theft for stealing €59,000 from her father.

Prosecutors said she had used the money to live a "fantasy of grandeur", including splashing out on expensive gifts and spending €27,000 on hospitality football tickets "with the aim of buying friends".

The court also heard Bartlett is suspected of burning down her sister's caravan - an attack which killed her 14-year-old dog Jade.

Bartlett's father had refused to make a police complaint about his daughter's theft and her parents cut ties with Rachael for supporting the prosecution.

The judge said they had been "supporting the wrong daughter".

She told the defendant: "It's Rachael that deserves their compassion and not you. I hope they will regret their behaviour towards Rachael and she has the generosity to forgive them."

In a victim impact statement, the 34-year-old revealed she suffers from nightmares and panic attacks and that she still has no contact with her parents.

"Cathy was not only my sister but my best friend, someone I trusted and relied on," she said.

"What she has done has ripped our family apart ... The fact that she was then prepared to kill me to cover up her actions is so disturbing I still haven't been able to come to terms with it."

Her statement continued: "I know none of this is my fault but I still find myself isolated.

"I love my sister and I always thought she loved me back. All of this has come as a great shock to me, I feel the sheer magnitude of the effect on me cannot be put into words.

"I think Cathy needs help and I hope she gets the help she needs."