Dishonest carer from Stevenage jailed for �40,000 theft

A CARER who stole more than �40,000 from a 95-year-old woman to stave off family debt has been jailed for 16 months.

Emma Prentice, 43, was given permission to use a bank card belonging to Agnes Wilson, to pay for the elderly lady’s daily needs, but withdrew money for herself, Luton Crown Court was told.

The deception continued over a three-year period and only came to light when a neighbour saw letters from the bank showing the victim’s account was overdrawn, said prosecutor Laura Blackband.

Miss Blackband said sadly the victim died just a few weeks ago, but the bank had fully reimbursed her before she died, having spent her final days in a care home.

Prentice, of Russell Close, Stevenage pleaded guilty to a charge of theft of �41,700 between January 2005 and May 2008.

The prosecutor said that Prentice was arrested on May 12, 2008 and her home was searched. She frankly told officers: “I have spent all the money on running this house. This is Agnes’ money.”

Jon Swaine, defending on Friday, said the family began experiencing financial difficulties after her husband suffered a debilitating accident.

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“It was a disastrous combination of circumstances in her life,” he said. “The Rubicon was crossed when she took the first small amount to keep her home warm.

“Having crossed that threshold, and being dishonest for the first time in her life, it spiralled out of control.

“In her own mind she thought she would be able to pay it back which was a hopeless stance to take. She put her head in the sand and did not face up to reality. She is really very, very sorry.”

Judge Michael Baker QC told Prentice: “You were the carer of a very vulnerable lady who entrusted you to manage her finances. It is a very serious breach of trust.”