A ‘despicable’ care worker has been jailed after she stole more than £8,000 from an 87-year-old pensioner.
Donna Marie Smith, 51, admitted defrauding the pensioner, who had dementia, by helping herself to four cheques while working at the client’s home in the Scraptoft area of Leicester, in the East Midlands.
The victim has sadly since died – but she never understood why her favourite carer suddenly stopped coming round without saying goodbye.
The judge at Leicester Crown Court described Smith’s callous actions towards the frail and vulnerable woman, as ‘quite simply hateful,’ while the victim’s sister-in-law branded her crimes ‘despicable’.
Devious care worker Donna Marie Smith has been jailed after she stole more than £8,000 from an 87-year-old pensioner at her home in Leicester
Smith fraudulently used the cheques to pay money into her own bank account and even removed the stubs to conceal her crime, which took place between April 2018 and January last year.
The 51-year-old defendant, of Millwood Close, Mowmacre Hill, Leicester, initially denied the charge but changed her plea to guilty on the day of trial.
The court was told that another carer – who had 20 years experience in the profession – became concerned about the victim’s mental health and advised relatives to seek Power of Attorney to safeguard her interests.
But at one stage she ended up wrongly being blamed as the culprit by Smith, who was trying to save her own skin.
The defendant was originally charged with taking 19 cheques and cash in excess of £20,000 – but she only accepted taking four cheques involving £8,056, on a basis of plea that was accepted by the prosecution.
Smith gave a ‘no comment’ interview when questioned by the police, said Hal Ewing, prosecuting.
In a personal impact statement, the victim’s sister-in-law said the pensioner, who had lived with her 83-year-old brother, looked forward to Smith’s daily visits and thought she was ‘a special friend.’
She sadly passed away in January this year.
The judge at Leicester Crown Court described Smith’s callous actions towards the frail and vulnerable woman, as ‘quite simply hateful,’ while the victim’s sister-in-law branded her crimes ‘despicable’
The victim’s sister-in-law said: ‘Thankfully, because of the dementia, she didn’t fully understand the despicable crimes carried out by Donna Smith.
‘It was upsetting and confusing that her favourite carer left without saying goodbye.’
The carer who was wrongly blamed attended the hearing and told the court: ‘The fraudster infiltrated the client’s home in January 2018 and the atmosphere gradually deteriorated throughout the year until my position became untenable.
‘The whole situation caused me significant distress.’
She said the trauma of being wrongly accused of taking the old lady’s cheques was ‘immense’ and she ended up on medication.
She added: ‘I feared my entire reputation was at stake and, now fully aware of the extent of the fraudster’s manipulation skills, I feared I may even be arrested for the crime – although the client’s family was very supportive and tried to allay my fears.
‘She died still thinking the fraudster was a wonderful person.’
Sentencing, Recorder Francesca Levett said: ‘Stealing money from an elderly woman you were supposed to be caring for is quite simply hateful.
‘I’m told you feel shame, but guilty your plea was extremely late in the day.
‘I accept there was an element of putting your head in the sand.’
The recorder said she had sympathy for Smith’s teenage daughter ‘because the punishment in this case can only be met by imprisonment.’
Steven Newcombe, mitigating, said Smith suffered from ongoing ill-health, as well as stress and anxiety over the proceedings and was worried her daughter may end up in foster care if she was locked up.
He said: ‘She feels shame and remorse and it was a long time coming for her to accept what she did, which was despicable.
‘She was in financial difficulty and when it came to light she couldn’t make an immediate admission and that’s something she’ll have to live with.
‘It was an abuse of trust, but thankfully wasn’t recognised as such by the lady whose money it was.
‘Nothing I can say and take away the pain and distress the offence has caused.’
Smith was jailed for 20 months.
Afterwards, the 53-year-old carer who was wrongly blamed by the defendant said: ‘Justice has been done.
‘What she did was unforgivable and extremely unfair on all the many decent and genuine carers who are trusted by their clients.’