Thief refused to do community service

Perth Sheriff Court. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Perth Sheriff Court. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A CARE worker who robbed an elderly client refused to carry out unpaid work in the community – because she did not like mixing with other criminals.

Fiona Cummings, 45, declined to show up for work and claimed she did not like the bawdy banter of the other offenders on the scheme.

She told Perth Sheriff Court yesterday that she felt out of place because 19 of the 20 people on the work programme were men and most were younger than her.

The court was told that she refused to do the work within days of being handed the 130-hour community-based sentence instead of being sent to jail.

She repeatedly phoned social work staff to protest about her work plan – and hurled abuse at them when they failed to move her from the group to which she had been assigned.

Solicitor Linda Clark said Cummings admitted breaching the community payback order by failing to turn up on three occasions between 22 August and 10 November last year.

Ms Clark said: “There were around 20 on the team and around 19 of them were male, leaving her as the only female. She was of the view there was some generally inappropriate chat within the team.

“She is a middle-aged lady and most of the people on the team were younger than her and perhaps inevitably there was a certain tone to the banter.

“Her abusive call came after she requested being moved to a more mixed team. She apologises for her language but it came after a number of calls and frustration on her part.”

Cummings was ordered to carry out 130 hours work in August after she admitted spending months stealing money from her 86-year-old client’s bank account.

The council carer was trusted to use her victim’s bank card but helped herself to £1,000.

Perth Sheriff Court heard that the pensioner initially thought she had been the victim of a bank computer error.

But when police were called in, it was discovered that the carer had been responsible for a gross breach of trust.

Fiscal depute Jim Eodanable told the court: “The complainer is an 86-year-old lady. The accused was an employee of Perth and Kinross social care services.

“After a period of time, the complainer trusted her to use her bank card to withdraw money for groceries and the like.

“The complainer went on holiday with her daughter. She tried to take money out of the account and noticed the balance was less than she had anticipated.

“On returning home, she brought statements out and discovered there were sums of money being withdrawn which she had no understanding of.

“She contacted her bank because she thought it was a banking computer problem. After speaking with the bank, she contacted police.”

The court was told that Cummings reacted angrily when she was caught and initially insisted that she had done anything to be ashamed of.

Yesterday, Sheriff William Wood gave Cummings another chance to carry out the unpaid work but warned her that if she refused again then she would be sent to prison.