Caught on spy camera - Thetford care worker who stole from dementia patients is jailed

PUBLISHED: 09:37 25 June 2014 | UPDATED: 09:37 25 June 2014

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A care worker was caught stealing from elderly dementia sufferers after suspicious family members planted a spy camera.

Natasha Smith, of Tudor Close, Thetford, was employed by an agency to conduct home visits where she would prepare meals, clean and deliver medication.

But money started to disappear from the home of an elderly couple after the 22-year-old had visited, Norwich Crown Court heard yesterday.

The couple’s daughter flagged concerns to the care agency and police and installed a spy camera at the home.

It caught Smith taking cash, with three separate incidents totalling £45.

Andrew Oliver, prosecuting, said: “Her father kept his money in his trouser pocket, and when he wasn’t wearing them they were left on a stool next to his bed.

“There was no need for a carer to touch his trousers or remove any money from them.”

Smith also preyed on an elderly woman, with four incidents and a total of £50 taken from her handbag, Mr Oliver added.

The woman’s daughter said that discovering what had happened was a “pretty horrible experience”.

Mr Oliver added that Smith “was stealing from the very people she was supposed to be caring for”.

Smith, who wept in the dock, had admitted the offences when police disclosed the spy camera evidence to her and pleaded guilty in court.

Stephen Dybal, mitigating, said Smith was in a relationship with an unemployed man at the time, worked at Iceland part-time and was paying rent for the man and his father.

“It was clearly never going to work and debt started to build up,” said Mr Dybal. “She went to a payday loan company.”

He said Smith had worked since she left school at 16 “without blemish” on her record, but suddenly found herself £5,000 in debt.

“She allowed herself to succumb to temptation and a very small minority of people she was tasked to look after she took a small amount of money from,” he said.

He added Smith was of previous good character, showed genuine remorse and was now living on benefits.

Judge Nicholas Coleman said he doubted the debt had been in Smith’s mind when she took the cash.

Sentencing her to two months in prison, he said: “The message must go out that those responsible for patients must do their best not to take property from them when they’re incapable of looking after themselves.”

Smith’s mother, who was in court supporting her, mouthed “love you” as she was led down to the cells.

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