25th Oct, 2016

'Remorseless' Chelmsley Wood carer steals from 91yr-old Shirley pensioner

Solihull Editorial 17th Oct, 2016 Updated: 24th Oct, 2016

A DISHONEST carer who stole money from a vulnerable Shirley pensioner has avoided jail time.

Sarah Blackwell, of Starkey Croft in Chelmsley Wood (pictured in the act) stole a large sum of money from the 91-year-old man and has been sentenced to one year in jail, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work.

The 41-year-old, who worked for Bluebird Care Solihull until the offence was uncovered, was eventually brought to justice after the pensioner’s family set up CCTV and caught her red-handed.

The jury heard how the elderly man, whose wife lives in a care home, is vulnerable not only because of his age, but as he also suffers from short-term memory loss.

The victim’s family initially became suspicious when his son became his power of attorney in July 2015 and noticed money seemed to be missing from his father’s account.

They took away his bank card in case he had simply forgotten about transactions he had been making and instead would leave some cash in a drawer each week.

When this money started going missing, the family started to point fingers at the care staff who visited each day to help administer medication.

They noticed the money’s weekly disappearance seemed to coincide with Ms Blackwell’s visits, so started photographing the serial numbers on the bank notes and set up cameras around the house to catch her in the act.

On August 30 last year, Blackwell stole money that had been left just hours before and was caught again on camera four days later taking more cash.

When confronted Blackwell claimed that, on the second occasion, the pensioner had given her the money so she could take her son out for a meal.

But she was found guilty of theft at Birmingham Crown Court, with Recorder Edward Coke telling her she had shown ‘no remorse whatsoever’.

Speaking to the Observer, the man’s daughter, who did not want to be named, said: “Our whole family is devastated at the sentence handed to Sarah Blackwell as we were hoping for a custodial sentence

“We hope she will never be able to work with vulnerable older people again.

“The whole situation has been very difficult for my family and is hardly the kind of upheaval we needed while caring for two elderly parents.”

Steve Tarpey, director of Bluebird Care Solihull, added: “We were shocked and extremely concerned to find out about these offences and as soon as they were brought to light we immediately notified the authorities and have been happy to assist them in their enquiries.

“Our care workers, who are selected through a rigorous recruitment process, are dedicated individuals who devote themselves to looking after our customers, and they are devastated by this breach of trust.

“While we cannot comment directly on the employment of an individual, the care assistant in question is no longer employed by Bluebird Care.”