Family installed spy camera to catch her in the act
Putney carer Sarah Leacy stole cash from an Alzheimer's sufferer she was meant to be looking after, a court heard today (December 4).
Leacy, aged 33, from Tildesley Road, had denied two counts of stealing £10 from a money box kept in the Putney flat of 90-year-old Monica Flanagan.
But District Judge James Henderson found her guilty of the two offences when she appeared at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court after he heard how she changed her account when confronted with video evidence showing her taking the money from the box.
The court heard that Mrs Flanagan's worried family had installed the 'spy camera' when they became concerned that money was going missing from the box, which was kept in a kitchen cupboard.
Her son Stephen Flanagan told the court that his mother suffered from problems with her memory and they kept small amounts of cash in the box for himself and the rest of the family to use if she needed anything when they visited.
He said the box had a key, which was stored separately, and each time a family member took money from the box they recorded it on an on-going receipt.
"At the beginning of February we started noticing cash was missing and we decided to install a spy camera to see who was taking it," he said.
He told the court that on June 13 and July 7 he checked the box and noticed £10 was missing each time. There was also no note or receipt left in the box to explain where it had gone.
The court heard that the video from the spy camera showed that Leacy had taken the money from the cash box on the two dates. After her arrest on July 13 she initially told police in Wandsworth that she said she had never opened the box.
Sarah Leacy replaces the tin after stealing from it
But when shown the video evidence during the police interview, she then "panicked" before breaking down in tears and stating she had taken the money on both occasions to buy bread, milk and toilet cleaner for Mrs Flanagan.
She told the police she got the toilet cleaner from Sainsbury's on July 7. But, after it was mentioned that the supermarket might have CCTV recording of her visit, she said it could actually have been Waitrose, Tesco or M&S. She said she bought the bread and milk from a nearby convenience store on June 13.
On both occasions Leacy, who was working for an agency, claimed she gave the change to Mrs Flanagan. But the court heard that she failed to report the purchases in a book used to record what took place during each care visit.
Leacy, who had no previous convictions, told the court: "I'm not a thief. I was just helping a client who needed some bits. I forgot to record it in the book.
"My head was all over the place when I was interviewed by the police. I was frightened and scared. When I was shown the video, I remembered what happened."
But Mr Henderson said he found her guilty of both charges. "She gave a flat denial, then an acceptance that she had taken the money. It cannot be that she was genuinely forgetful. I find both charges proved."
He warned Leacy that she could face a custodial sentence when she appears before him for sentencing on Monday (December 8). "There may be the possibility of a community order, but I don't rule out imprisonment as it was a breach of trust," he said. Leacy was granted bail prior to sentencing.
Eileen Flanagan, Mrs Flanagan's daughter, said after the case: "I am glad that she has been found guilty, but it has been upsetting for all the family. It is so sad that someone can do this to a 90-year-old woman with Alzheimer's when they are supposed to be in a position of trust. "
December 4, 2014