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Jail for carer who stole £17k from pensioner
SHE was in a position of trust as a carer for a frail 90-year-old.
Gemma Murray was supposed to be looking after Hallie White but when the pensioner went into hospital she betrayed that trust.
The 24-year-old took the opportunity to order bank cards for Mrs White’s account – and used them to steal £17,532.
Her spending spree included buying jewellery from Argos and topping up her phone.
But today the pregnant mum is behind bars after admitting two charges of theft and four counts of fraud – and she will be giving birth to her next child in custody.
Judge Sarah Munro, QC, sent the 24-year-old to prison for 36 weeks after saying cases like this are “on the increase”.
The pensioner’s ordeal came to light after she was discovered in Winchester in February last year “in a confused state” after suffering a fall. She was diagnosed as suffering from dementia at hospital.
When Mrs White returned home in March she found her Barclays bank account was £500 in the red, the court heard.
It was discovered that there had been 31 withdrawals of £300 and another for £500 as well as top ups for an orange phone and purchases from Asda.
Mr Phillips said Murray later made 15 withdrawals of £300 from Mrs White’s Santander account.
And police found telephone calls had been made to obtain the cards and to transfer money between Mrs White’s accounts.
Agincare logs revealed Murray had been “sorting out the complainants’ finances”.
“This was entirely outside the remit of her responsibilities,” Mr Phillips added.
The bank recompensed the pensioner for the missing money, the court heard.
Andrew Houston, in mitigation, said Murray was “thoroughly ashamed”. He said Murray’s daughter is now nine months old and her new baby is due in June.
The judge said Murray’s actions amounted to a “gross breach” of her employer’s trust and that of Mrs White.
She said: “You should have thought of your children while you were committing those offences.”
Sentencing her to 36 weeks for each offence, but with the prison terms to all run at the same time, the judge said she hoped Murray understood “that’s far less than you deserve”.
“This victim was utterly powerless and vulnerable,” she added.
“Cases like this are on the increase as the elderly are cared for more and the community must be protected from those like you who succumb to temptation.”
An Agincare UK spokesman said Murray has not worked for the company since April 2011 and called her actions “deeply regrettable”.
He added: “We have co-operated fully with the police investigation and we are pleased that justice has been served.
“We hope this is a message to all involved in the care of vulnerable people that such abuse will not be tolerated and will always be pursued through the courts.”
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