A single mum from Chester who stole hundreds of pounds from a vulnerable pensioner she was helping to care for has been jailed.
Sarah Louise Ley, 32, whose baby has serious ongoing health issues, wept as she was led away to start serving a 26-week prison sentence.
She was also ordered to pay £1,000 towards the compensation.
Flintshire Magistrates’ Court heard Ley, of Clover Place in Chester, was pregnant at the time of the theft and had been trusted by the victim with her debit card so she could withdraw cash for her.
But it emerged she used the card to withdraw cash and to pay bills at supermarkets and had taken £2,800.
Deputy District Judge Timothy Gasgoyne told her: “Although you had your difficulties, she was elderly, in her 80s, her husband was in hospital and she had limited capacity.”
He said he had thought long and hard whether he could suspend the sentence.
She had no previous convictions but she had a previous caution for stealing £5 from the handbag of an 87-year-old at a care home where she once worked.
“You knew you should not be doing this but you have done it again,” he said.
Prosecutor Rhian Jackson told how this victim was a woman in her 80s who lived alone in Connah’s Quay and whose husband had been in hospital for two years.
She had restricted mobility, used a wheelchair and relied upon family for support. The victim had previously suffered a brain haemorrhage and had limited mental capacity.
Mrs Jackson said Ley’s mother had attended her home for many years in order to do her hair and the defendant had started attending in recent times.
She was a carer who was off work because she was pregnant and she would do various things for her, including running errands, at £10 an hour.
In February the family realised that cash was going missing from the house and it was decided she would be provided with a debit card.
The victim gave the card and her PIN to Ley, trusting her, in order to get £50 cash out of the bank to pay her mother for doing her hair.
But when the family looked at the bank statement it turned out 75 unauthorised transactions had taken place amounting to £2,803
The victim, who was unable to leave her home unaided, did not know where the card was. Ley turned up while a search was going on, she went to a sofa which had already been searched and produced the card, saying she had just found it.
Ley was suspected to be responsible because she had access to the card and PIN, and she admitted what she had done, saying ‘sorry, it’s me’.
Probation officer Tracey Flavell said Ley accepted full responsibility and was remorseful.
At the time she had been living with her mother after escaping from a violent relationship.
Her baby had been born with medical difficulties, underwent surgery at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, and continued under the care of that hospital and the Countess of Chester Hospital.
Her former partner had been killed in a motorcycle accident seven years ago and she had been receiving counselling.
Defending solicitor Justine McVitie told the court: “She succumbed to temptation at a very difficult time in her life.”