A 92-year-old care home resident died “heartbroken” after a worker pawned a gold bracelet her late husband had given her, a court heard.
Care assistant Kirstie Pickering, 36, stole the bracelet and three rings, worth approximately £1,000, last January from the resident’s toiletries bag and pawned them for £180.
The court heard the distraught victim spent her last days “upset and distressed” and died two weeks later before she could be told police had recovered her items from a Cash Converters store.
Mum-of-three Pickering had been working at the care home for only a couple of months before the incident.
On Thursday, she was jailed for 20 months at Bradford Crown Court after she admitted offences of theft and fraud by false representation.
Prosecutor Emma Downing told the court when Pickering was confronted about the theft she replied, “you can’t pin this on me”.
A police inquiry revealed she had pawned the items for £180 and had told staff in the store the jewellery was hers.
In a victim impact statement, the victim’s daughter said her mum was “heartbroken” and the most devastating loss was the bracelet which had been a present from her late husband.
She said: “I definitely feel this incident contributed to her death. It has upset me greatly. I put my trust in the staff members at the home and so did my mother.
“The fact this member of staff has abused this trust is shocking and heart-breaking.
“After this incident my mother told me she felt unsafe in the home. I could see she was worried and scared.
“I am so upset by what my mother went through and how she felt during the last days of her life.
"In the end, my mother didn’t even know that some of her jewellery could possibly have been recovered.
“She died thinking these items were gone forever.”
The care home manager said Pickering had potentially damaged the home’s reputation, and her offending had hurt morale.
She added: “Whether [the complainant] died from a broken heart, I’ll never know but she died upset, sad and distressed.”
The court heard Pickering had previous convictions, including theft and four months before the offence, police cautioned her for shoplifting.
Recorder Darren Preston rejected submissions the prison sentence could be suspended.
He said Pickering’s job had been to look after vulnerable residents, but instead she had gone looking for the jewellery to steal it.
Jailing Pickering, he said: “She [the victim] died feeling unhappy and scared because of you.”