A live-in carer who betrayed her frail client by stealing almost £4000 has been ordered to pay her back and carry out unpaid work.
Stephanie Bittles moved in with the vulnerable Pathhead woman to support her – but used her bank details to order pizzas, buy clothes and pay off debts.
The 27-year-old had access to the pensioner’s bank details so she could buy food and other items for her. But instead she used the personal data to order a new credit card.
Bittles even tried to book flights with the bank cards but was foiled when suspicious transactions were spotted on bank statements.
She admitted forming the fraudulent scheme during an appearance at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last month.
As she returned to court for sentencing yesterday, defence agent Jennifer Cameron said Bittles lost her most recent job “as a result of adverse publicity”.
She said: “She’s now secured new employment and is due to start in August. She has no previous convictions and nothing else outstanding. Positively, she’s now in a position to compensate the [victim].”
Between April 1 and September 21, 2013, at the elderly woman’s home, Bittles made false claims to Tesco Bank that she was her client, managing to secure a Mastercard in her name and using it to buy goods and services and to make payments for loans.
Bittles also used her client’s existing bank card to put money towards loans and financial agreements, and to set up a credit agreement with online clothing catalogue Freemans.
Bittles defrauded her client, whose children have full power of attorney, out of a total of £3900 – and tried to cash in on a further £1255.34.
She fully admitted her guilt when interviewed by police in December 2013 – and claimed that she had hoped that she could pay the money back before she was caught.
Ms Cameron told Sheriff Frank Crowe that Bittles had expressed her “remorse” in a letter to the court. She said: “It appears to be very genuine and she’s very ashamed of her conduct.”
The court heard Bittles had a significant amount of debt, some from her time as a student, and had been struggling after the breakdown of several personal relationships.
“Matters got to the point where she was unable to sleep. She shouldn’t have allowed her problems to become someone else’s problems, particularly given the circumstances at the time,” said Ms Cameron.
The court was told that Bittles, who lives in Hamilton, has now set up a debt management plan and has been seeing her GP to help her with her issues. Sheriff Crowe told Bittles she had committed a “serious breach of trust” but said she still had potential to make something of her life.
He ordered her to pay back the £3900 in compensation and sentenced her to a year-long community payback order with supervision, which will require her to complete 60 hours of unpaid work within six months.
The victim’s family were not available for comment last night.