Preston carer stole from her elderly stepgrandmother who suffers dementia

A woman who stole more than £1,000 from her elderly step grandparents - one of whom suffers dementia - has avoided jail.

Nicola Melia, also known as Nicola Ward, 43, of Princes Reach, Ashton-on-Ribble, Preston, took her step grandmother's cash card when she knew her step grandad would be out at a bowling club.

Crown Court

Crown Court

Between August and October she stole £1,130 through cash withdrawals and writing herself two cheques.

READ MORE: ‘Heartbroken’ great-gran Olive never recovered after trusted carer stole thousands from her bank account

Preston Crown Court heard her grandfather happened to look at a bank statement and noticed transactions for amounts that had been withdrawn over the last three months, relating to an ATM near a dry cleaners in Fulwood.

The prosecutor said: " "He immediately thought there was something suspicious because his wife doesn't know how to use the cash machine and if they needed money they would usually use a different cash machine."

A few days later his son in law visited and he told him about his suspicions.

His son in law returned to his home with the defendant and she broke down in tears and said: 'I've stolen your money, I hate myself.'

The thefts were usually on a Tuesday or Friday - since the 1950s her stepgrandad has attended Lonsdale Bowling Club on those days.

The court heard his wife suffers dementia and the defendant had an opportunity to take those cards, use them and replace them without being detected.

In a police interview Melia denied the offences.

She said her grandmother gave her permission to take the money and write out cheques and she signed them, as she was in debt and had been "borrowing" the money.

But she later admitted her guilt.

Defending, Daniel Harman said she had lost her good character in "the most sad and catastrophic of ways".

He told the court she pleaded guilty to spare her grandad having to give evidence at court.

He revealed her dad and grandad were present at court to support her and that the family wish to move on as there had been recent bereavements.

He added the carer "dedicates her life" to looking after young adults with serious mental and physical difficulties, and that she had put herself in jeopardy of losing that career, but wished to continue it.

Recorder Brown sentenced her to a community order with 150 hours unpaid work and 30 RAR days.