Honiton carer, 50, jailed for using dying grandmother's bank card to steal money
PUBLISHED: 15:26 04 May 2018 | UPDATED: 15:26 04 May 2018
A Honiton carer has been jailed for using a patient's bank card to steal from her as she lay dying in hospital.
Sarah Christie had been looting the account of 89-year-old Rose Helyer for months before she went into hospital and carried on doing so even on the day she died.
Grandmother Christie, aged 50, had been entrusted with Mrs Helyer’s bank card to take out cash for necessities but used it to steal money to pay off her own debts. The divorcee was struggling to cope with the costs of living without her husband and resorted to theft to make up the shortfall.
Christie, of Black Lion Court, Honiton, admitted three counts of fraud and was jailed for eight months by Judge Erik Salomonsen at Exeter Crown Court. He told her: “You were trusted almost as a member of the family but you were in financial difficulties and began to steal from your victim.
“On November 30, 2016, knowing she was in hospital due to her great age and infirmity, you stole £200. Within minutes of her dying, although you cannot have known it, you stole another £400.
“It would be hard to imagine a worse case of breach of trust than someone using her cash card in this way.
“The gross breach of trust against an elderly and vulnerable patient, and given the sequence of events of the last two withdrawals in the days before her death, this sentence cannot be suspended.”
Mr Gordon Richings, prosecuting, said Mrs Helyer was almost bed bound and unable to leave her flat in sheltered accommodation in Ottery St Mary.
Christie was her carer from 2013 until she died the day before her 90th birthday in December 2016. She was treated as part of the family and Mrs Helyer had lent her money in the past.
The thefts began when Christie took over the task of getting money from a cashpoint in April 2016 and only came to light when Mrs Helyer’s family studied her bank statements after her death.
A total of £12,920 was withdrawn in 49 transactions between April and December but the prosecution accepted that only £6,499 of this had been stolen. This included £200 taken out on the day before her death, when she was seriously ill in hospital, and £400 taken out on the day she died.
Mr Lee Bremridge, defending, asked the judge to take account of a probation report which said Christie stole the money because she had large debts, including council tax and water bill arrears.
He said Christie’s financial problems arose after the end of a 22 year marriage during which her husband had taken care of all the bills.
Christie had always worked since the age of 16 but is currently in receipt of sick benefits after suffering a back injury while working as a carer.