Carer jailed for stealing from Ottery grandmother while she lay on her death bed

Exeter Crown Court.

Exeter Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A carer has been jailed for stealing from an Ottery woman while she lay dying in hospital.

Sarah Christie looted the account of 89-year-old Rose Helyer for months before she went into hospital and carried on doing so even until the day she died, a court heard.

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.

Exeter Crown Court heard 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.

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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.

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“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A total of £12,920 was withdrawn in 49 transactions between April and December but the prosecution accepted that only £6,499 of this had been stolen.

Mr Lee Bremridge, defending, said Christie stole the money because she had large debts, including council tax and water bill arrears.

He added 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.

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