Anger as carer who stole from elderly woman is spared jail

Professor Dominic Tweddle

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RELATIVES have told of their anger after a carer who stole cash from an elderly woman with mental health problems was spared jail.

Ana Lourenco admitted stealing £580 from 76-year-old Sheila Thompson when she was supposed to be looking after her.

The 32-year-old had gone to her victim’s home in Portsmouth in April last year.

But when she arrived she spotted an envelope containing the cash which she then pocketed.

The money had been posted through the letterbox by Mrs Thompson’s son-in-law, but when the elderly woman challenged Lourenco, she denied ever seeing it.

She left and when a relative later called Lourenco she again said she had not touched the cash.

But the police were called and they stopped Lourenco in Southsea, where a search of her car revealed the cash had been hidden in Lourenco’s purse in the boot.

A note and two postal receipts that were originally with the money had been shredded and were found stuffed into a cereal box in the car.

Lourenco was later charged with theft and the cash was returned to Mrs Thompson.

She was sacked from her job as a carer with Apex care and moved from her home in High Street, Fareham to Wales after being caught out.

She had originally denied theft and was due to stand trial but changed her plea to guilty at the last minute.

Mrs Thompson’s daughter, Kathleen, told The News: ‘It’s really affected mum’s health. Until this happened she was getting better.

‘I would have liked to have seen (Lourenco) get at least a short prison sentence, just to put other people off.

‘We can’t be with mum 24 hours a day.

‘We are not living with her, we rely on these carers to do what they do for mum. We put a lot of trust in them, we do rely on them heavily.

‘She’s not only broken mum’s trust, she’s broken our trust as well.’

Lourenco, who has no previous convictions, was sentenced to eight months in jail – suspended for two years – at Portsmouth Crown Court.

She must also do 120 hours of unpaid work.

Prosecutor Paul Fairley said: ‘In some views perhaps Mrs Thompson potentially is the perfect target, since perhaps, for example, allegations of missing items may not be taken as seriously otherwise because of her delusional thinking, but she was, the Crown says, a very vulnerable woman indeed.’

Gareth Morgan, defending, said Lourenco is ‘deeply remorseful’ for her actions.

Sentencing Lourenco, Recorder James Townsend said: ‘This was a despicable offence.

‘It was mean, it resulted in a huge amount of distress for the lady you were paid to care for and a huge amount of distress to her family.’