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Care worker Fiona Elizabeth Birch who stole from elderly client avoids prison

By Nevin Farrell

A care worker who was previously given a four month jail term for the "despicable" theft of £1,347 from a 91-year-old female client with dementia, has avoided prison after the sentence was suspended for two years on appeal.

Fiona Elizabeth Birch (53), of Tromery Drive, Crumlin, previously pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud by false representation when she appeared at Antrim Magistrates Court and was given a jail term in January.

However, she appealed and at the County Court in Antrim on Monday the sentence was varied to become four months, suspended for two years.

A previous court heard she admitted dishonestly making a false representation that she had permission to use a credit card belonging to the elderly lady on dates between the end of 2014 and September 2015.

A prosecutor said Birch worked for Lisburn-based Bluebird Care and it was a case of theft by an employee from a client with dementia. The woman's family uncovered the fraud when bank statements showed transactions which should not have been there.

Birch had removed the card from the woman's purse.

Defence barrister Chris Sherrard told the court earlier this year that Birch has suffered from psychiatric issues and had been in Holywell Hospital in Antrim for a week after committing the offences.

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