Niece admits £21,000 theft from great-aunt
A woman who stole more than £21,000 from her great-aunt's bank account while she was in hospital has been given a community sentence.
A court heard Michaela Cameron, 25, kept Elizabeth Pawlowski's bank card after fetching her messages.
She was caught when a social worker checked the 83-year-old's bank statements at her Falkirk home.
Cameron, of Maybole, South Ayrshire, was ordered to complete 300 hours of unpaid work after admitting the theft.
Stirling Sheriff Court was told Cameron's drug addict boyfriend had pressured her to take money from the bank account.
Cameron withdrew £21,380 from Mrs Pawlowski's account over a seven-month period in 2014 after the pensioner and her husband were admitted to hospital and then into care homes.
Prosecutor Sarah Lumsden said: "The accused was confronted and she hung her head and produced Mrs Pawlowski's bank card from her purse.
"She said she had been given the card to get some shopping.
"She said her boyfriend had been using drugs and was pressuring her to take money from the account."
Tony Currie, defending, said Cameron had only managed to repay £190 of the money stolen.
He said: "She knows it's a drop in the ocean compared to what was taken.
"This has had a fractious impact on her family."
After reading social work background reports, Sheriff William Gilchrist said the offence had been committed in the context of Cameron being pressured by her partner.
He said: "That does make a difference, if it's true, and I have to proceed on the basis that it is true, as it's not been rebutted (by the Crown).
"For that reason alone, I will employ the alternative to custody, but it will be the maximum."