Carer's deceit of dementia sufferer deplored

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 12:00 30/01/2013

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A Palmerston North judge has chastised a Foxton woman for abusing the trust of her employer and stealing more than $9000 from an 84-year-old man suffering from dementia.

Between July 5 and August 10 last year, June Ann-Marie Graham, 37, took $9261.50 from the man's account.

The victim was a resident at Metlifecare's Palmerston North complex.

Graham, who worked there, found his eftpos card and PIN in his room and took it to withdraw money, which she then spent on pokie machines.

The offending was discovered only after Metlifecare employed a private investigator.

At her sentencing in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday on 15 dishonesty charges, defence lawyer Mike Andrews said Graham had already begun paying back the money.

About half her holiday pay - $1905 - had been given back to the victim after she was fired from Metlifecare, he said.

However, she had since been getting $170 a week from a benefit.

Mr Andrews said Graham had offered to pay back $50 a week.

"If she finds employment, her contributions could increase," he said.

While she owned a property, she could not sell it as it was part-owned with another person, he said.

Her husband was "disgusted" with the behaviour, which came out of a need to fund a gambling addiction, Mr Andrews said.

Judge David Smith said her actions were nothing short of betrayal.

"You were in a position of trust, not just to Metlifecare, but to [the victim].

"You abused that grossly. It is the breach of trust that is the most aggravating aspect of your offending."

Judge Smith said he hoped Graham had read the victim-impact statement.

"You have caused much anguish to the man's family.

"The staff now constantly worry about his vulnerability."

He sentenced Graham to six months' community detention, 12 months' supervision and 100 hours' community work.

He also ordered Graham to pay the stolen money back to the victim, as well as the $1511.10 Metlifecare spent on the private investigator.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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