Carer fleeces old man

JUNE GRAHAM: Stole while working at Metlifecare, Palmerston North, from an 84-year-old resident.
JUNE GRAHAM: Stole while working at Metlifecare, Palmerston North, from an 84-year-old resident.

A retirement village employee used a master key to enter an 84-year-old's room, take his eftpos card, withdraw large sums of cash, and feed her pokie addiction.

Between July 5 and August 10, June Ann-Marie Graham, 37, of Foxton, took $9261.50 from the account of Brian Cooper, a resident of Metlifecare's Palmerston North complex.

In Palmerston North District Court yesterday, Graham admitted 15 charges of dishonestly using a document and was remanded on bail until December for sentencing.

Defence lawyer Jacinda Younger suggested the matter might be suitable for restorative justice, but Mr Cooper told the Manawatu Standard he wasn't sure he wanted to hear from Graham.

"I can't see any purpose . . . I've never met her, so I don't know who she was. I know all my money's been stolen."

Until yesterday, Mr Cooper, who has lived at the Metlifecare village for 18 months, was unaware anybody had been arrested for taking his savings.

When she first entered his room, Graham found Mr Cooper's pin number written down.

He said, because of this, he was taking a share of the blame for what happened.

"How on earth was I silly enough to write down my number?" he said.

"Obviously it's a concern. It's a large sum of money.

"It wasn't until I got a statement from the bank that I knew what had happened, then I quickly went around to the police station and said ‘look at this'. There were about 20 occasions when money had been rifled out of my account."

Mr Cooper said he would "very much" like his money back.

A police summary of Graham's offending says on July 5, she first entered Mr Cooper's room and found his eftpos card and the pin number. She drove to Countdown Rangitikei St.

"[Graham] then withdrew $800 from an eftpos machine before spending the entire amount on pokie machines at the pub."

The next day, she again took the card and twice bought groceries, worth $400.60, then $141.71 at Countdown. She then withdrew another $800, before spending $219.19 on groceries at Pak 'n Save .

On July 9 Graham made 16 $100 withdrawals at a cafe.

"On each occasion she frequented a nearby pub and spent the entire amount on pokie machines," the summary says.

But that scheme was thwarted when a cafe worker told Graham she could make no more withdrawals.

So she headed to Foxton and withdrew $300 at an ATM machine.

Finally that day she went to a bar, withdrew $400 and spent that on the pokies.

Between July 13 and August 10 she went into Mr Cooper's room a further six times, took his card, and withdrew more cash.

She made 29 transactions in total.

Finally, Metlifecare employed a private investigator who traced the crimes back to Graham.

When police caught up with her she told them she used the money to fund her gambling addiction.

When approached by the Standard, Graham declined to comment.

No-one from Metlifecare was available to comment.

Manawatu Standard