Carer avoids jail for stealing nan's cash
THIEF Kim Scarlett stole more than £20,000 from her grandma who was suffering from dementia.
The 34-year-old withdrew money from her grandmother's account with the intention of paying her care home fees but spent the cash herself, Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard yesterday.
Prosecutor Heather Chamberlin said Scarlett's grandma, Elizabeth Critchlow, who is now aged 77, moved into Bradwell Hall Nursing Home when her memory began to deteriorate.
A financial assessment carried out by Stoke-on-Trent City Council in 2009 ruled Mrs Critchlow was to pay £177 a week towards her own care and the £180 a week balance would be clawed-back by the authority when the pensioner's house was sold.
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However, in February 2011 funding changes meant Mrs Critchlow no longer had to contribute towards the cost of her care as it would be fully paid for by the local health authority.
But when the authority closed accounts held by Mrs Critchlow in March 2012 and transferred all balances it was noted that money paid into her post office account had been withdrawn each week.
Scarlett admitted she had taken the money out and used it herself.
The court heard nearly £25,000 had been withdrawn from the post office account since July 2009 and £3,700 was withdrawn from a Britannia Building Society account while Mrs Critchlow was in care.
Miss Chamberlin said: "Some money had been paid towards care fees, about £6,500, but that left £22,000 unaccounted for. Some of that was applied for Mrs Critchlow's benefit."
Scarlett told police she withdrew money from her grandmother's account with the intention of paying the care home but needed the money herself. She accepted spending the cash on everyday things.
Scarlett, of Lordshire Place, Packmoor, pleaded guilty to two charges of theft. Paul Cliff, mitigating, said Scarlett, a mother of two, has never been in trouble before.
"She lived with her grandmother from the age of 14 until the age of 22. She always had a very prominent role in relation to the care of her grandmother," said Mr Cliff. "The burden fell on her because family members lived away from her."
Judge Paul Glenn believed the victim would not have wanted to see the defendant go to jail and said it was an exceptional case.
He sentenced Scarlett to 14 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, with 120 hours unpaid work and six months supervision.
The judge told Scarlett: "You stole a significant amount of money, albeit not exceeding £20,000.
"You had become your grandmother's main carer and you were responsible for effectively handling her finances. There came a time when she had to move into a home. Suspicion arose when the care fees were not being paid.
"You had an extremely close bond. After the death of your grandfather you did an enormous amount for her.
"That does not enable you to use her money to pay your bills. I try to envisage how your grandmother would feel. I do not believe for a second she would want to see you go to prison. Her wish was eventually you would inherit her money."