A PILFERING carer from Camborne was caught stealing from a 91-year-old’s purse after cameras were set up to spy on her.
After breaching a “high degree of trust”, Debra Barkle, 54, of Tremarle Home Park, North Roskear, was spared jail at Truro Crown Court after admitting two charges of stealing cash totalling £40 and one of attempted theft from Joyce Talbot.
Elaine Hobson, prosecuting, said between February to March, about £620 in cash went missing from Mrs Talbot’s home. The court heard hard-of-hearing and house-bound Mrs Talbot relied on a series of carers to visit four times a day. Ms Hobson said Barkle, a carer for seven years, was exposed as the thief after Mrs Talbot’s daughter-in-law Julia Talbot reported the missing money to the police.
A surveillance camera set up in Mrs Talbot’s living room recorded Barkle, who committed the offences between March 19 and April 1, taking £20 out of Mrs Talbot’s wallet twice, and rifling through the purse but not taking anything.
Barkle initially denied to the police taking any money but accepted what she had done when shown CCTV footage.
She denied any thefts other than those caught on camera.
“It is obviously a very serious breach of trust,” said Ms Hobson.
“The Crown is in the difficult position of not being able to establish who else might have taken from this lady.”
In a statement, Julia Talbot said her relationship with her mother-in-law, described as being isolated, vulnerable and trapped in her own home, had suffered because the pensioner suspected her in the absence of a definite culprit.
Ms Hobson said she had now lost trust in her carers, adding: “Mrs Talbot did not believe that the carers would be capable of such behaviour.”
Probation officer Mary Lewis said Barkle claimed to be suffering from depression and anxiety and was on employment support allowance benefits but was suitable for unpaid work.
Fred Howell, defending, said Barkle had no previous convictions and her husband, in court supporting her, was annoyed and disappointed. Sentencing Barkle to six months in prison, suspended for two years with a requirement of 150 hours’ unpaid work, Judge Nicholas Rowland, said: “If you come back in time and say that you are too depressed to do unpaid work, that is simply not going to wash because you have got to make reparation for what you have done to Joyce Talbot.”
Barkle was also ordered to pay an £80 victim surcharge.
Judge Nicholas added: “The effect on this lady Joyce Talbot has been severe. She trusted everybody that came into her home, not surprisingly; she was entitled to trust people … most right-thinking members of society would also be disbelieving that you would steal money from her.”