Little Paxton woman with gambling addiction who stole thousands of pounds from dementia patient has been sentenced
PUBLISHED: 13:48 09 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:02 09 May 2019
A 21-year-old part-time cleaner and carer from Little Paxton has been sentenced today (Thursday) after admitting stealing thousands of pounds from an "extremely vulnerable" dementia patient in her 90s.
Lucy Bird, of Rampley Lane, was sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court after pleading guilty to stealing £26,860 from 94-year-old Audrey Hammond.
The court heard how Bird, who did "odd jobs" for Ms Hammond, was in a "position of trust" when Ms Hammond handed over her debit card and pin code to allow her to withdraw cash.
However, Bird began withdrawing large amounts from Ms Hammond's account and kept it for herself to fuel a gambling addiction.
The court heard that Bird began cleaning and cooking at Ms Hammond's home in Warboys in 2013.
When Ms Hammond's condition deteriorated, she was moved to a residential care home but Bird continued to steal money from her account.
The theft stopped after concerns were raised in May 2017.
Stephen Kennedy, defending, said that since the offences, Bird had taken the right steps to "address her addiction" and had not gambled since her arrest.
He also told the court how Bird had prepared to pay voluntary compensation to Ms Hammond, by saving up the money she had stolen in order to pay back "every penny".
Bird, who pleaded guilty to theft at an earlier hearing, was handed a six-month suspended sentence by Judge Jonathan Cooper.
She was also given 250 hours of unpaid work, and ordered to pay back the full amount of money stolen within two years.
She will also have to take part in a rehabilitation programme to address her addiction.
Judge Cooper said: "This is a case that involves a breach of trust. You were a person of trust, and although you were a child when you started, it was still a significant breach of trust. You took advantage of someone who was vulnerable, and that behaviour of yours caused enormous distress to the family of this vulnerable elderly person.
"For your sentence, I have to take into account that you were of good character, and you do not have any previous convictions. You also had an utter lack of maturity at the time. I also have to recognise that you were trusted to handle monetary affairs of someone who was vulnerable.
"In your case, I am perfectly satisfied that you are utterly remorseful. I have also seen clear evidence from your bank statements that you were gambling very frequently, so in your case there is proven evidence of repeated gambling.
"In the two years between then and now, you have taken positive steps to stop gambling. I am also aware that you have saved up the money to give back to the family as compensation, and that every last penny will be repaid."