A "hard-working" carer betrayed the trust of a 93-year-old dementia sufferer and stole hundreds of pounds in a "sordid and nasty" offence.
Paula Irvine, from Walton, was caught red-handed after the woman's daughter-in-law set up CCTV cameras because of her "suspicious and standoffish" behaviour.
The carer, who had been caring for the pensioner and her late husband for around five years, was spared jail after her six-week stealing spree.
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It comes after the daughter-in-law became "alarmed and confused" after she realised that around £600 had disappeared from her purse in June 2021.
Liverpool Crown Court heard how she noticed further occasions where the money had gone missing – leading to her installing the security system the following month.
Eight days later, cameras captured the moment Irvine crouched behind the armchair the woman was sitting in and rifled through her handbag.
When the family checked with employer Local Solutions, in transpired that she "wasn't rota'd to work that day and shouldn't have been there," reports Liverpool Echo.
In a last-ditch attempt to cover up her crimes, she placed an envelope containing £540 upstairs on the property and falsely told officers she had placed it there for safekeeping after seeing her victim's purse left near the unlocked back door.
In total, Irvine had swindled at least £440 from her on five occasions in the space of just over a month. Members of the family were present in court as a statement was read out on their behalf.
It read: "When we found that money had been going missing on a regular basis, the family didn't suspect Paula initially as she had always appeared to be a hard-working, caring person.
"Someone in a position of power who was meant to be helping [the victim] was actually abusing her.
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"We are disgusted that someone could do this to an elderly lady who trusted her. She took advantage of a lovely 93-year-old woman with dementia."
Steve McNally, defending, told the court that his client had "struggled financially" and had fallen into debts, having been in receipt of benefits even while working.
Mr McNally said: "Very unusually, she didn't spend the money she stole. She didn't lavish herself with luxury items.
"What she achieved from taking the money is nothing more than stress, shame and remorse. Equally unusually, she returned the money to [the victim]."
Irvine, who has no previous convictions, admitted five counts of theft and was handed a six-month imprisonment suspended for a year.
She was also told to serve a three-month curfew from 6pm to 5am plus a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement.
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