This heartless Derby carer was caught red-handed on a secret camera stealing from the purse of an 82-year-old woman she was being paid to look after.
The family of the Borrowash pensioner set up the cunning trap after noticing money was going missing.
It filmed Dawn Scaife distracting the vulnerable victim before placing a tea towel over her purse which was on a table.
But unbeknown to the 54-year-old thief, of Spondon, inside it were £20 notes which were tracked to her the following day through their serial numbers.
Jailing her for four months at Derby Crown Court, Judge Jonathan Bennett said: “You were this vulnerable lady’s carer and you behaved in a despicable way towards her.
“This lady got to the position where she started to doubt people.
“She thought her relatives or her neighbours might have taken the money and to use her own words ‘she thought she might be losing her marbles’.
“She began to doubt everyone who came to the property. You were entrusted to attend to this lady and she was vulnerable.”
Katrina Wilson, prosecuting, said the offence took place at the property on May 23.
She said the victim had carers, including Scaife, come to her three times a day and in the lead up to the offence she and her family had noticed money going missing from her purse.
Miss Wilson said they installed the secret camera and made a note of the serial numbers on £20 notes inside the victim’s purse which was on a table.
She said: “The defendant was filmed distracting the victim getting her to look the other way and was seen to place a tea towel over the purse and pick it up from the table.
“Once the footage was checked the matter was reported to the police and the defendant was arrested the following day.
“She was found to have have three £20 notes on her which matched the serial numbers from the victim’s purse.”
Scaife, of Vancouver Avenue, and who has no previous convictions of any kind, pleaded guilty to theft.
In her police interview she told officers she had been a carer for 18 years and was “not a bad person, but someone who made a simple mistake”.
She accepted she had used a “distraction technique” to get the money from the victim.
The pensioner’s daughter read to the court part of an impact statement made by her mother.
In it she said: “I thought I was losing my marbles and I no longer trust people coming to my address”.
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Bianca Brasoveanu, mitigating, said her client handed in her notice immediately after being caught stealing.
She said in the run up to her offence she had lost her father, her brother and a cousin had been placed on life support following a blood clot.
Miss Brasoveanu said: “She knows what she did was unforgivable and has cast a shadow over an otherwise long and happy career.
“She had recently split up from her partner and was left with a substantial debt to pay going into thousands.”