Carer fined for theft of Melrose pensioner’s cash

Priorwood Court in Melrose.
Priorwood Court in Melrose.

A carer caught on camera stealing money from the handbag of an elderly woman she was looking after has been fined £350 at Jedburgh Sheriff Court.

Relatives of the frail pensioner suspected cash was going missing from her sheltered housing home in Melrose.

They then set up cameras and caught Hellen Johnson, 40, on film going into the woman’s bag and removing £35.

The police were called, and as they viewed the closed-circuit TV evidence in another room at the pensioner’s Priorwood Court home, the cash turned up underneath the table the bag had been left on. The officers insisted the money had not been on the floor when they arrived.

At a trial, fiscal Tessa Bradley told Johnson: “You tried to get away with it by dropping it on the floor when the police had their backs turned.”

When she was first quizzed by police, Johnson said she had never gone into the handbag and had no reason to do so.

However, when confronted with the CCTV evidence, she said she had gone into the handbag to find a key to lock her client’s door.

Tanzanian-born Johnson, of Fairnington Cottages, Kelso, said she suffered from mental health problems, and she remained adamant that she had not taken the £35 despite the CCTV evidence against her.

Sheriff Derrick McIntyre found the former psychiatric nurse guilty of stealing the money on January 19 last year.

Defence lawyer Mat Patrick said background reports stated that Johnson was not suitable to carry out unpaid work in the community due to her health issues.

He pointed out that, due to anxiety, she had suffered a fit resulting in an ambulance being called to the courthouse earlier that day, but after being checked over by paramedics, she was ruled to be well enough to appear in court.

The single mother was ordered to pay her £350 fine in instalments of £20 per week.