A CARER from Tavistock who admitted stealing around £1,200 from a man with Parkinson’s has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Donna Clayton, 51, was given a four-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months.
She was also ordered by Judge James Townsend to do 100 hours of unpaid work, to undergo 40 hours of unpaid rehabilitation activity and to pay a victim surcharge of £122.
She was sentenced by video link at Plymouth Crown Court on Tuesday (June 23) after admitting at an earlier hearing to stealing an estimated £1,200 from David Evans at his Tavistock home between September 1 and November 21 last year.
That hearing at Plymouth Magistrates Court back in February heard that Clayton was secretly filmed via a hidden camera taking cash from Mr Evans’ wallet in the living room of his home while he was upstairs being got ready for bed by another carer.
Unknown to the offender, his wife Valerie Evans and their son had placed the camera and were watching from outside the house,
Plymouth Magistrates Court heard that Mr Evans required full-time care as he suffered from Parkinson’s and Crohn’s disease along with othe conditions.
Clayton had been employed to look after him two evenings a week to give his wife, his main carer, a break.
Gavin Warden, prosecuting, said: ’Mrs Evans had some concerns that over two or three months money had been disappearing from his wallet.
‘They thought initially that he was getting muddled about the amount of money he had in his wallet. Mr Evans was sure the money had been going missing, though.’
As a result, on the evening of November 21, they decided to place a camera in their sitting room linked remotely to a mobile phone.
Mrs Evans and her son went out but were in fact watching via Mrs Evans’ mobile phone away from the house. After witnessing the theft, they went back and tasked Clayton with it.
‘We put this in the hate crime category,’ said Mr Warden. ‘We are talking about high culpability. This is deliberately targeting a victim on the basis of their vulnerabilty.
‘This is a breach of trust to a very high degree of the trust and responsibility that Mrs Evans has given the defendant so she gets some respite herself.’
At Plymouth Crown Court on Tuesday Will Willden, for Clayton, said she was ‘staggered’ to hear she had taken so much, but accepted the sum estimated by the family.
He added: ‘Once confronted by the police she confessed and she has waited for some months for her day of judgement. She does not seek to hide from what she has done.’
Mr Willden said that she was receiving bereavement counselling.
Handing Clayton her suspended prison sentence Judge James Townsend told her: ‘I have to sentence you for what was, on any version of events, a very mean offence.
‘You had a high degree of trust both from your client and in particular his wife. He was plainly vulnerable and you took advantage of those vulnerabilities to take money.
‘I accept it was not huge sums but it was over a significant period and that means a prison sentence must be imposed. But it is one I can suspend because you are effectively of good character and because of the remorse you have expressed.’
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