Carer who stole from gran jailed

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A Blackpool carer has been jailed after he stole thousands of pounds of jewellery from a trusting grandmother-of-three who suffers with Alzheimer’s disease.

Craig Smith, who gave his address as a Blackpool hotel, was caught after he sold 85-year-old Sylvia Scott’s engagement ring and other sentimental items to a pawnbroker.

Smith, 52, was first employed as Mrs Scott’s carer in July 2012 and regularly visited her home in Park Avenue, Lancaster.

Rosemary Finlan, Mrs Scott’s daughter, said: “Mum had had a series of falls and she needed extra help with making meals, chores and washing. Smith was a very plausible man and she welcomed him into her home.

“But he groomed her. He gave her a lot of attention and built up a relationship with her. She was always asking for Craig.”

Mrs Finlan said Smith bought her mum gifts to earn her trust.

This included a fan he’d purchased while on holiday in Spain and a pair of slippers.

“He was extra nice to her and went beyond the call of duty, so alarm bells started ringing,” she said.

Mrs Finlan and her brother Philip first noticed something was wrong when large sums of money disappeared from her bank account without explanation.

“It all happened so quickly,” said Mrs Finlan.

“We noticed petty cash going missing from her house and silly things, like washing powder. The chores weren’t being done and Smith was taking her out without us knowing. He’d call round unexpectedly.

“Then we noticed that her engagement ring, which she wore all the time, had gone missing. We thought she had forgetfully misplaced it.”

In fact, Smith had gone upstairs into Mrs Scott’s bedroom and rifled through her possessions.

He took the ring, bought for Mrs Scott by her late husband Alan, and other jewellery which belonged to her mother.

Then he sold it at a Lancaster pawnbroker.

“He told them it was his grandmother’s jewellery,” said Mrs Finlan.

Smith was arrested in November 2012 and the jewellery was retrieved.

A spokesperson for Lancashire County Council said: “We are unable to comment on individual cases. However, all care agencies on our ‘preferred providers’ scheme are required to meet specific quality standards.

“We monitor these agencies closely and always take action whenever the required standards are not being met.”

Mrs Finlan said: “My mum is such a nice person. She’s not really aware of all of this because her dementia is quite bad now.

“You hear about these things in the news. You never think it will happen to you.”

Smith, who lived at Holmfield Hotel, Woodfield Road, Blackpool, admitted two counts of theft and three of false representation. He was jailed for six months.

Charges relating to thefts of cash from Mrs Scott were dropped.