A carer has avoided a jail sentence despite being caught on camera stealing money from an elderly dementia sufferer.
Sophy Retallick was spotted on CCTV taking cash from the purse of an 83-year-old woman she was supposed to be caring for.
The woman, known as Ivy, whose full identity is being protected by her family, suffers from dementia and her son noticed she had less money than usual.
He became concerned so installed CCTV cameras in his mothers home in Truro, Cornwall, and caught Retallick in the act.
Retallick, 30, appeared at Truro Magistrates’ Court on Monday where she pleaded guilty to the theft.
The court heard that at the end of last year the family of the woman began to notice that money was going missing from her purse.
Checks were made with Ivy’s receipts, and there were no changes in her outgoings, so her son installed CCTV in the home.
On March 10, Retallick was described as being suspicious in her behaviour, and cash again went missing.
The son checked the carer log details, and noticed that Retallick was the person who was signing in to care for her when the money was going missing.
After checking the CCTV footage, Retallick was caught taking the woman’s purse from a window sill in the kitchen.
Further incidents happened in May, when Retallick was seen on camera putting her hand in the woman’s handbag and removing something.
Money continued to go missing, and Retallick was again caught on CCTV removing the woman’s purse from the kitchen window sill.
Retallick was reported to police and attended a voluntary interview, in which she admitted her crimes.
Alison May, for the prosecution, said: “She said she had recently acquired employment, and described a list of medications she struggled to pay for.
“She took the opportunity to take the money.”
Retallick told police in an interview: “I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t help myself.
“Something would always come up. I wish I had never let it get out of hand. I’m truly sorry for what I have done.”
In mitigation, solicitor Patrick Haynes said: “When her husband got a new job, the increase income affected their benefits.
“She suffers from manic depression and severe asthma. She is on a good number of medications.
“When her benefits were cut, she had to go back into work. She couldn’t afford the medication.
“She went back into work not with an intention to steal. Sadly such was her condition that she felt she had no option but to do that.
“She was caught, interviewed and completely honest and open with police.”
Sentencing Retallick to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, the chair of the magistrates’ bench said: “This was extremely serious, deliberate offending over a period of time.”
Retallick must complete 80 hours of unpaid work, as well as ten rehabilitation activity requirement sessions.
She must also pay £250 in compensation to the victim, £85 court costs and a £110 victim surcharge.
Speaking after the hearing, Ivy’s son said: “It was an appalling crime, my mother has worked hard all her life and she has little savings.
“The idea that someone who had access to her house was taking the money was very upsetting for us all.
“The worst thing I think is that in the video, the defendant is seen chatting away to my mother while pocketing the cash.
“We can see the magistrates have taken this really seriously, and it sends a message to those in positions of trust.
“Most carers do a fantastic job and this woman has brought her profession into disrepute, which the magistrates have recognised.”