'Absolutely appalling' - Post Office cashier stole pensioner's £1,000 council tax cheque
PUBLISHED: 15:30 25 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:40 25 January 2019
An 89-year-old pensioner found himself summoned to court for non-payment of council tax after a £1,056 cheque paid in at the Post Office was stolen by a cashier.
Caroline Sear, 53, took advantage of the pensioner when he paid in cheques at Aylsham Post Office, but instead of sending it to the council she put it into her own bank account, Norwich Magistrates heard on Friday.
Josephine Jones, prosecuting, said Sear took advantage of her position of trust to commit the fraud as the victim trusted her to help him fill out his cheque.
She said her actions caused a lot of stress for the victim, as he was eventually summoned to the magistrates court for non-payment of his council tax.
Ms Jones said: “I don’t know whether or not he ended up having to pay court fees as well as the outstanding council tax.
“For an 89-year-old to be put in this situation is absolutely appalling.”
She said Sear had taken advantage of a vulnerable victim and her actions had put him under stress.
Sear, of Layer Close, Aylsham, admitted fraud while occupying a position of trust as a Post Office cashier, on March 29, last year.
Sear was ordered to pay back the cash she stole and also pay the victim £500 compensation for the stress caused.
Chairman of the Bench, Louise Gayton, told Sear it was an “opportunistic offence” and said: “You were in a position of trust, which you breached.“
She also imposed a 12-month community order and ordered Sear to do 200 hours unpaid work.
Debbie Reynolds, for Sear, said she had succumbed to temptation and used the cash to pay debts.
She said Sear put the cheque aside after the victim had become flustered over paying in the cheque: “It was lunch hour and she intended to deal with it later.”
Ms Reynolds added: “She made a mistake that she will regret for the rest of her life. She did it to clear immediate debt and she did not think about the consequences.”
Ms Reynolds said that Sear was sole carer for her son with disabilities and said: “She knew what she did was wrong.”
She said Sear had saved up £200 towards paying the cash back.
Ms Reynolds said Sear had been diagnosed as suffering from depression and anxiety.
“It was an isolated incident, It was one opportunistic theft. She knows she has let people down.”