Christ­mas in jail for carer who stole from widows

Rochdale Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

ACARER is to spend Christ­mas in jail for her first of­fence af­ter she stole £99 in cash from two el­derly widows she was sup­posed to help with day-to-day liv­ing.

Marie Craw­ford, 59, from Rochdale, stole the money from the hand­bags of the con­fused vic­tims aged 86 and 90 on four dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions when she took them out for lunches and shop­ping trips or helped them with house­hold chores.

She was caught af­ter rel­a­tives of one of the women in­stalled CCTV spy cam­eras out­side her home and filmed Craw­ford pick cash out of the lady’s hand­bag as she was pack­ing it in the back of the car ahead of a day trip.

At Manch­ester’s Min­shull Street Crown Court, Craw­ford, of Wil­lows Lane, who ad­mit­ted theft, burst into tears as she was told by a judge she would be locked up for 20 weeks as a ‘short sharp shock.’

She will be el­i­gi­ble for re­lease on Jan­uary 31 2019 but her sen­tence will be then be re­assessed un­der the terms of a par­tially sus­pended sen­tence.

Judge Bernard Lever told her: ‘’In this coun­try there are thou­sands of old peo­ple in their own home be­ing looked af­ter by car­ers, who suf­fer with de­men­tia and mem­ory dif­fi­cul­ties.

“The vast ma­jor­ity of those car­ers are very lov­ing, hon­est, kind and de­cent peo­ple. But there is a temp­ta­tion for dis­hon­est car­ers to steal from the peo­ple they are as­signed to pro­tect care for them and look af­ter them. But in fla­grant breach of that trust you started ri­fling their bags for cash.

“These ladies were aware their money was dis­ap­pear­ing, and it was when fam­ily mem­bers watched the CCTV you were caught red handed steal­ing their money. This short sen­tence will act as a shock to you.

“This sen­tence is a sharp re­minder to you and those like you that peo­ple who steal from vul­ner­a­ble lit­tle old ladies, they will be re­manded in cus­tody.”

The court heard the thefts oc­curred be­tween Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber this year whilst Craw­ford was work­ing for a care provider.

Prose­cu­tor Martin Callery said: “The two vic­tims, who are re­lated, have ill­nesses and ail­ments that are gen­er­ally as­so­ci­ated with peo­ple of that age and a Craw­ford was as­signed to visit them and care for them at home.

“But it was sus­pected money was go­ing miss­ing, so fam­ily mem­bers be­gan observing the de­fen­dant by plac­ing CCTV out­side the front of the house. They ob­served the de­fen­dant Marie Craw­ford ar­rive at the house and then leave the house with the el­derly lady.

“She then took the lady’s hand­bag to the rear of the car and was seen pick­ing money from it. It tran­spired that £20 cash was stolen from her hand­bag.

“The other el­derly lady, aged 90, had been stolen from by the de­fen­dant on three sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions from her hand­bag whilst Marie Craw­ford was in­side her home in the kitchen area.

‘’The fam­ily took note of the se­rial num­bers on the notes to keep tabs on where they were go­ing and the de­fen­dant was ac­tu­ally seen tak­ing the money.

“When she was ar­rested she ad­mit­ted all of the al­le­ga­tions against her.

“She had been a care worker for some years and she has since been dis­missed as a re­sult. Prior to all of this she was a woman of hith­erto good char­ac­ter.”

In a state­ment the 86-year old woman’s daugh­ter said: “My mum has lived at her ad­dress since she was mar­ried to my dad in 1958. Once my dad died in 2007 she lived alone in that house. She has three chil­dren, two sons and one daugh­ter, and four grand­chil­dren.

“She is a proud per­son who wants to stay in her house and live as in­de­pen­dently as pos­si­ble. In 2015 she was di­ag­nosed with vas­cu­lar de­men­tia and for a sig­nif­i­cant pe­riod, all our fam­ily are hav­ing to adapt to the changes this ill­ness brings.

“We try to pro­vide as much sup­port as pos­si­ble and make sure she is able to live in her own home as her wish. As part of her ill­ness she fix­ated on money and count­ing things like her key, and her bank card and whether has money in her purse.

“She checks these items nu­mer­ous times a day. That said she does not know amounts of money, she just checks to see if money is there.

“We are heart­bro­ken to hear how distressed our mum is. The trust placed upon this carer has been to­tally abused.

“Peo­ple with de­men­tia are the most vul­ner­a­ble as crimes com­mit­ted against them are the most dif­fi­cult to prove, this was a be­trayal.”

In mit­i­ga­tion, Craw­ford’s lawyer Mark Fire­man said: “She is al­most 60 and has been a carer for many years.

“She has by her own ac­tions lost her em­ploy­ment, lost her good char­ac­ter and is be­fore this court deeply ashamed of the ac­tions she took.

“She is un­able to ex­plain why she did what she did when she did it.

“There was no fi­nan­cial is­sues. She didn’t spend the money on ex­pen­sive gifts and high liv­ing was not the rea­son for the thefts.”

●●Marie Craw­ford has been jailed

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