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Father and daughter preyed on the elderly and vulnerable

Pair swindled unsuspecting victims out of hundreds of pounds

John Garvey

john.garvey@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886628

Court

A FATHER and daughter swindled vulnerable, elderly people out of hundreds of pounds.

Twenty-year-old carer Gemma Smith wept as she was sentenced for stealing cash and credit cards from a 94-year-old Newbury woman and a wallet from a Kintbury man suffering from dementia.

Her father Robert, aged 52, had then used the man’s credit card to withdraw cash.

On Wednesday, June 6, the pair appeared for sentencing at Reading Crown Court.

Sarita Basra, prosecuting, said Ms Smith, of Eagle Road, Bishops Green, abused her employment as a carer for Bluebird Care agency, Newbury.

She had also faced other charges which were not proceeded with, because of the age and vulnerability of the alleged victims.

When the theft was discovered against Smith’s first victim, an 88-year-old Kintbury man, his regular carer, Stephen Palmer, took him to the bank to cancel his credit cards.

When unauthorised withdrawals were discovered, a distraught Mr Palmer feared he would be blamed.

Smith then stole £250 from an 94-year-old Newbury woman.

Meanwhile, her father, who lives at Howarth Court, Newbury, used a card on three occasions to fraudulently obtain cash.

An investigation was launched and Smith was arrested, but told police she had no idea why she was being blamed.

Her father handed himself in to police and admitted using the bank card, claiming he had simply found the wallet.

Ms Smith admitted two charges of theft by employee, while her father admitted one count of receiving stolen goods and three counts of fraud by false representation.

Stephen Ernshaw, for Smith senior, said his client was a recovering alcoholic with a long history of offending, but pointed out he had handed himself in to police.

Francesca Anderson, for Smith junior, said her client had a new fiancé who had been a positive influence on her and that she was remorseful.

Judge Maria Lamb said: “The knowledge that someone like this has been in your home is about as devastating as it can be for an elderly person.”

Turning to Ms Smith, she said: “An honest and trustworthy carer... feared he would be accused.

“Carers are special people in a position of great trust. 

“It’s really difficult for me to see how I can deal with this in any other way than a custodial sentence.”

To Smith’s father, she said he had a “long and disgraceful record for dishonesty”.

Ms Smith was told to pay her victim back the cash and sentenced to 14 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.

In addition, she was ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid community work.

Her father was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months and ordered to carry out 150 hours unpaid community work. He was also ordered to pay £170 costs.

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