A judge sentenced an in-home caregiver to 26 weeks behind bars this week after video footage, from a hidden camera, showed the woman stealing money from the elderly woman she was supposed to be caring for.
The Daily Mail reports Judge Martin Walsh of Wolverhampton Crown Court told 20-year-old Sheryvone Brooks, before sentencing her, that the theft was “mean and despicable.”
Brooks had pleaded guilty to a single theft charge in Dudley Magistrates Court on Feb. 19.
Video footage (shown below) from a hidden camera that was entered into evidence with the court plainly shows Brooks taking 30 pounds — about $45 — from her victim’s purse and putting the money in the pocket of her jacket.
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“Nothing I can say could justify her actions. It was a very unpleasant offense and the shame she feels is all consuming,” her attorney Jason Aris told Walsh, according to the Express & Star
Walsh heard testimony that the family of 85-year-old Evelyn Nicholson grew suspicious that the woman’s caretaker might be stealing money when cash from the elderly woman’s purse kept disappearing.
The family contacted Gateway Health & Social Care of Dudley — the company providing the caregivers — and the company agreed to install the hidden camera in Nicholson’s Stoutbridge home.
The camera caught Brooks, who was 19 at the time, stealing the money in December 2014.
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Prosecutor Lynda Gudgeon said Brooks later admitted she stole the money because she needed it to buy Christmas presents.
Nicholson’s son, Robert Smith, said his mother was upset after viewing the footage of Brooks taking the money.
“My mother said if Brooks had come to her and told her she had financial difficulties she would have given her the money,” Smith said in February, according to the Mirror. “The family is understandably very angry about what happened.”
Brooks reportedly cried in court as Walsh handed down the sentence.
“The aggravating feature here is not the value of property, it's the nature of the relationship between you and the elderly person whom you were responsible for providing care for,” Walsh said, according to the Daily Mail.
"This was a gross breach of trust," Walsh added.
“The sentence is designed not only to punish you, it's also essential that other members of the profession which you are a part of understands that offenses of this sort committed against vulnerable and elderly people in their home will result in an immediate prison sentence,” the judge added. “It is a deterrent to others.”
Brooks will serve out her sentence in a young offenders institution.
She has been dismissed from her job at Gateway. Nicholson’s family praised the company’s efforts in bringing her to justice.