A carer 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 has heard how Nicola Ferguson withdrew up to £1,000 from the pensioner’s savings to use for a tenancy deposit.
The 34-year-old defendant, of Cymric Drive in Larne, Co Antrim, has been 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.
She had been working as a carer, looking after the elderly victim, when the offences were committed in Belfast in February last year.
After stealing the woman’s bank card she used it twice to withdraw sums of £500, the court heard.
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 her account.
Defence counsel Michael Boyd said Ferguson was ashamed of the theft, describing her actions as “terrible”.
According to the barrister his client 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 claimed the defendant intended to pay the victim back at some future date.
Passing sentence, Deputy District Judge Chris Holmes admonished Ferguson for her behaviour.
Despite it being her first offence, he ruled that immediate custody was the only proper sentence.
But following further submissions from Mr Boyd the judge agreed to grant bail for an appeal set to be heard next month.