Lancashire

Clitheroe carer stole £30k from pensioner who trusted her

Rebecca Robinson
Image caption Rebecca Robinson had an online gambling addiction

A carer who admitted stealing £30,000 of cash and jewellery from an elderly woman has been jailed for three years.

Rebecca Robinson, 35, maxed out credit cards and bank accounts belonging to 79-year-old pensioner Margaret Peel.

Mrs Peel was so frail she could not get out of bed and died within months of learning of Robinson's crimes, Preston Crown Court heard.

Recorder Tim Harrington said Mrs Peel "spent the last months of her life knowing she had been betrayed".

Mrs Peel employed the mum-of-four from Clitheroe as her carer in 2012 and later described her as her best friend.

But in 2016, Robinson fell into debt from an online gambling addiction, the court was told

Over 14 months between 2016 and 2018, she used Mrs Peel's NatWest debit and credit cards to set up accounts with the online catalogue Very and Marks and Spencer bank.

She ran up credit card debts and pawned more than £12,000 of Mrs Peel's jewellery, which had belonged to her mother, the court heard.

Her deception was uncovered in September 2018 when Lancashire Police received a call from Marks and Spencer's finance department, raising concerns about Mrs Peel's account.

'Traumatised by theft'

In January 2019, Mrs Peel was admitted to hospital but died on 18 February.

Her son Tony said his mother's health "dramatically went downhill" as she was "worrying about money and the debt".

"Mum was truly traumatised to find the loss of her jewellery," he added.

Robinson was in receipt of tax credits during the time she was stealing from her employer, the court heard.

"She didn't set out to scam Mrs Peel. She very much liked her. They were best friends. The addiction overtook," defence counsel David Farley said.

The court heard most of the jewellery had been recovered from the pawnbrokers and NatWest had reimbursed the full sum to the family.

Robinson, of Beech Street, pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position, theft by employee and fraud by false representation.

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