Burnley carer who stole from 95-year-old dementia sufferer could be facing jail

A carer stole almost £2,500 from a 95-year-old dementia sufferer because it was Christmas and she was hard-up – and because she could, a court heard.

Burnley Magistrates' Court
Burnley Magistrates' Court

Single mum-of-three Sarah Coppock was supposed to be looking after the “particularly vulnerable" pensioner – who lives alone, has nobody and relies entirely on carers – but abused her position and repeatedly made withdrawals from the Burnley woman’s bank account.

Coppock was in council tax debt after previously being out of work and was said by her lawyer to have acted “out of desperation".

The 44-year-old, who was sacked immediately by her bosses, Astra Care, could now be facing a jail term for what magistrates in the town described as “a particularly nasty crime”.

Prosecutors told the court the victim was sent carers to support her four times a day.

She had no family and due to this the company had control of her finances by a Post Office account.

One carer noticed a number of transactions which seemed suspicious and Coppock, who had attended at the victim’s home each time they occurred, was required to attend a suspension meeting.

She owned up to her bosses and also to the police when she went to a voluntary interview and admitted the offences. The defendant made withdrawals totalling £2,430.

Mr Ben Leech, defending Coppock, said she had worked in caring for 16 years, but there had been a period when she was unemployed.

She was the sole carer for her two younger children, had found it difficult to get work which fitted in with looking after them, but eventually got that employment with Astra. Unfortunately she had run up debts.

Coppock was told a debt which had started off as £1,500 had accrued to £3,000 after attendances at her home from bailiffs.

The solicitor continued: "Last December, she felt she had no option but to come to an arrangement with them to prevent them from taking items. She arranged payments of £400 a month, which, I think it’s fair to say, she simply didn’t have.”

“Her income at that stage was £157 per week. She describes a very difficult position, with Christmas quickly arising. She didn’t know how she was going to cope and foolishly took the opportunity to access an account which she knew she could access.”

Mr Leech told the court Coppock made no attempts to cover up her wrong-doing. She committed the offence out of desperation. He went on: "She has no financial support from the father of her children and literally was between a rock and a hard place.”

The solicitor, who said Coppock had been given the victim’s PIN number via a company phone, told the Bench: “I don’t seek to persuade you in any way the custody threshold hasn’t been crossed, given the offence and breach of trust.”

He added: "The local authority or family members would be caused to look after her children if she was placed in immediate custody.”

The defendant, of Helston Close, Burnley, admitted fraud by abuse of position, between last December 18th and February 12th, this year.

Magistrates adjourned for a probation report and Coppock, who had no previous convictions, will be sentenced at the end of January.