Carer who stole £1,000 from blind OAP bailed to appeal prison term
A care worker who stole a blind 86-year-old woman's bank card to raid her account has received a six-month prison sentence.
Belfast Magistrates' Court heard how Nicola Ferguson took £1,000 from the pensioner's savings to use for a tenancy deposit.
The 34-year-old defendant, from Cymric Drive in Larne, Co Antrim, was released on bail, pending an appeal against the jail term imposed.
Ferguson admitted charges of theft, fraud by false representation and attempted fraud by false representation.
The defendant was working as a carer and looking after the elderly victim when she committed the offences in Belfast in February last year. After stealing the woman's bank card, she twice used it to withdraw sums of £500, the court was told
A further attempt was made to buy food from a KFC restaurant with the card.
Police were alerted after the pensioner's son noticed unauthorised transactions and withdrawals from his mother's bank account.
Defence counsel Michael Boyd said Ferguson was ashamed of the theft, and he told the court that his client's actions had been "terrible". According to the barrister, the defendant saw it as an opportunity to obtain money quickly to pay for the deposit on a tenancy agreement.
Mr Boyd added that Ferguson's own bank card had been withheld in a bid to prevent her leaving the family home.
He also claimed his client intended to pay the victim back at some future date.
But passing sentence, Deputy District Judge Chris Holmes admonished Ferguson for her behaviour.
Despite it being the first offence on her criminal record, he ruled that an immediate custodial sentence was the only proper punishment.
But following further submissions from Mr Boyd, the judge agreed to grant bail for an appeal to be heard next month.