Disgraced care worker Louise McAllister swindled cash from man aged 99
A shamed former care worker defrauded a vulnerable elderly couple out of £1,000 after telling them she needed a new car, a court was told yesterday.
Louise McAllister took advantage of the good relationship she had built up with the pair she cared for by asking for the money, then driving them to a building society to withdraw it.
A judge said there was "something deeply chilling" about the 42-year-old accepting the sum from a man aged 100, who has since died, and his elderly wife who has dementia.
The mother-of-three, from Cedric Street, Larne, appeared at Antrim Crown Court after previously admitting fraud by abuse of position.
The charge stated that on August 11, 2014, while occupying a position in which she was expected to safeguard or not to act against the financial interests of the man and woman, namely as a domiciliary care worker employed by Admiral Care Services, she dishonestly abused that position in "accepting £1,000 cash from them" which was never repaid, with the intention to make a gain for herself.
Prosecution counsel Michael Chambers said another care assistant heard what had happened, and that the company directors, who later repaid the elderly couple, contacted the police.
He also told how an employment handbook strictly prohibited staff from entering into financial transactions with any of their clients.
The elderly couple said McAllister constantly mentioned to them that she needed a new car but did not have enough money to buy one.
It was also revealed that the pair agreed to hand over the money after she visited them on her day off.
McAllister, who had a previously clear criminal record, admitted to police that she accepted the money. And while she claimed she had never actually asked for it, she agreed it amounted to an abuse of position.
The court was told that while victim impact statements could not be obtained from the elderly couple, a neighbour of the pair said the incident badly affected the husband, who felt "let down".
Defence barrister Neil Moore told the court his client said the money was only a loan, and that £420 had been paid back, with the other £580 with a solicitor.
He said the money was for repairs to McAllister's car rather than a new one, and added there was no evidence his client had "browbeaten" the couple.
Mr Moore also insisted the defendant intended to repay the money and defended McAllister as someone who had cared for the couple for six months and who had built up a genuine bond with them.
The barrister detailed the effects of the crime on his client, claiming she was "almost unemployable" and had been "ostracised" by her local community.
He told how McAllister had withdrawn family members from an Irish dancing competition because she could not face the public because of her crime, adding she was not eating well and had lost weight since the incident. Concluding, he claimed his client had expressed genuine regret.
However, Judge Desmond Marrinan said McAllister had a duty of care to the couple but had taken advantage of them.
He added: "There is something deeply chilling about someone who takes advantage of two very elderly people, one of whom has dementia".
Describing how he found it "hard to contemplate" that McAllister had taken the pair to the building society to get the cash, he added: "The victims in this case were old people, completely defenceless, and relied on her for support. If we cannot treat people who have lived their lives and deserve to be treated fairly, what is to become of us?"
Warning there was a risk of jail over the "very troubling" case, Judge Marrinan adjourned sentencing until next week so he could reflect on the matter. McAllister was released on bail and left the court without commenting.