A carer who stole £30,000 from a vulnerable pensioner by pawning her jewellery and using her credit card to shop from Ann Summers has been jailed for three years.
Rebecca Robinson, 35, turned to scamming retired accountant Margaret Peel, who died aged 79, for 14 months while the pensioner was in her care.
The mother-of-four from Clitheroe, Lancashire had racked up a debt from an online gambling addiction after she started working for Mrs Peel in 2012.
Robinson decided to raid Mrs Peel’s credit and debit cards between 2016 and 2018, setting up accounts with Very and Marks and Spencer.
Rebecca Robinson (pictured) turned to scamming retired accountant Margaret Peel, who died aged 79, for 14 months while the pensioner was in her care
She plunged the 79-year-old, who described Robinson as her ‘best friend’ before she died months after she learned of her crime, into debts of £7,500 and £13,000.
According to the Lancashire Telegraph, the fraudster pawned more than £12,000 of Mrs Peel’s sentimental jewellery, which had been handed down from her mother.
By 2018 the situation was so dire that Robinson, who had taken out around £10,000 in cash withdrawals, intercepted Mrs Peel’s mail to cover her tracks.
Her crimes were uncovered by police in September 2018, when officers received a call from Marks and Spencer’s finance department.
Raising concerns about Mrs Peel’s account, police visited Robinson in Clitheroe. She later admitted to taking her patient’s money and jewellery.
However, Mrs Peel, who was so old that she could not get out of bed, was admitted into hospital in January 2019 and died one month later.
Sentencing, Recorder Tim Harrington condemned Robinson, claiming that Mrs Peel ‘would have spent the last months of her life knowing she had been betrayed by you – someone she thought of as a friend who she relied on’.
Preston Crown Court heard how the pensioner’s health and well-being ‘dramatically went downhill from receiving this information’, her son Tony said.
Mr Peel, 51, told the court how he had looked over hundreds of his mother’s bank and credit card statements from this period.
He claimed that Robinson had spent the money on a black basque from Ann Summers, an Amazon Echo, clothes, designer handbags, and travel.
Robinson, who was earning £500-a-month and receiving child tax credits, also bought a washing machine, fridge, and carpets.
The mother-of-four from Clitheroe, Lancashire had racked up a debt from an online gambling addiction after she started working for Mrs Peel in 2012. Robinson had decided to raid Mrs Peel’s credit and debit cards in 2016, setting up accounts with Very and Marks and Spencer
Mr Peel said: ‘Mum was truly traumatised to find the loss of her jewellery, which was her mothers and had great sentimental value.’
Robinson pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position, theft by employee and fraud by false representation at Preston Crown Court.
Recorder Harrington said: ‘Over a period of 14 months between 2016 and 2018 you stole about £30,000 fraudulently, using Margaret Peel’s bank accounts and credit cards when you were supposed to be looking after her, and you took jewellery from her that you will have known was of great sentimental value.
‘It is only by very good fortune that most of the jewellery has been returned and one can only imagine the angst it would have caused her, and indeed her family.’
He went on: ‘She would have spent the last months of her life knowing she had been betrayed by you – someone she thought of as a friend who she relied on.
‘Mrs Peel was very vulnerable because of her age and she was also infirm. That is the reason you were there to look after her.’
David Farley, defending, said: ‘She didn’t set out to scam Mrs Peel. She very much liked her. They were best friends. The addiction overtook.
‘There was a series of bad things going on and a small win would make her feel better. It was like an antidepressant and she used that to cope.
‘Addiction makes you selfish and it makes you blinkered. That’s what happened here.’
The court heard most of the jewellery has since been recovered from the pawnbrokers and NatWest has reimbursed the full sum to the family.