Woman stole £26k from 95-year-old family friend with dementia

A woman stole more than £25,000 from a 95-year-old with dementia over the course of almost two years, a court heard.

Thursday, 9th May 2019, 11:16 pm

Lucy Bird, of Rampley Lane, Little Paxton, St Neots, stole the money between December 2015 and May 2017.

The 21-year-old withdrew the cash without the knowledge of her victim, who was friends with her own mum and grandmother.

She started working for the elderly woman in 2015, doing odd jobs at her home in Warboys.

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This included cleaning, cooking, shopping, washing and ironing – for which Bird would be paid about £20 per week for two hours of work.

In December 2016 the victim moved to a residential care home in Huntingdon.

Concerns were first raised to the police in May 2017 after large sums of money were being withdrawn from the victim’s account for no valid reason.

Further investigations revealed Bird had been visiting the woman, taking her bank card and then withdrawing money from her account.

Bird then kept the majority of the money and returned the bank card to the victim, together with just a few pounds.

She also signed the visitor’s register at the care home using different names and vehicle registrations each time. Her visits correlated with the card withdrawals, the court heard.

Between January 2017 and Bird’s arrest in May the same year, about £12,000 was withdrawn from the elderly woman’s account.

Before this, when the victim lived in Warboys, Bird would ordinarily withdraw between £100 and £150 per week.

In total Bird stole £26,860 from her victim, the court heard.

Bird was arrested on May 11, 2017 and admitted withdrawing some of the money - but said she only stole around £8,000. She claimed she used it to pay her rent and car bills, but denied withdrawing any money before January 2017.

She was released on bail while further investigations were carried out, but was interviewed again after a financial investigator looked further into both hers and her victim’s bank accounts.

In her second interview in June 2018, she admitted taking all the money and said the truth was she had spent it on her gambling habit.

She told officers she would withdraw the money, give some to the victim and keep the rest.

At Cambridge Magistrates’ Court on February 28, Bird pleaded guilty to theft and her case was committed to crown court for sentence.

She was sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court today (Thursday) where she was handed a six month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

She was also ordered to complete 250 hours of unpaid work and a 30 day rehabilitation activity requirement. Bird was also ordered to pay back the £26,860 in full to her victim in compensation.

Detective Constable Neil Patrick, who investigated, said: “Bird stole a large amount of money from an elderly and vulnerable woman who she knew was friends with her own family and was suffering with dementia.

“Bird’s offending continued even when her victim moved into a care home. The level of deceit involved is shocking to say the least.

“The victim fully put her trust in Bird, who would help her out with everyday tasks when she couldn’t manage them herself. She had no reason to believe that she would abuse her trust so despicably.”