A CARE worker who tended to a housebound, dying man has been convicted of stealing cash from his bank account in the months before he passed away.
Michelle Macrae was trusted with wheelchair-bound Scott Paterson’s cash card and Pin number as he recovered from a second stroke.
The 45-year-old was supposed to buy food for Mr Paterson, who was a family friend, from his weekly pension payments, but she stole money as well.
Macrae was only caught when her victim was taken to hospital and his daughter found slips for the fraudulent withdrawals in his Granton flat.
The grandfather-of-two wept after he learned he had been the victim of a scam. He died eight months later, aged 61.
Macrae was found guilty of the thefts yesterday after a trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Following his verdict, Sheriff Frank Crowe told her it was a “serious breach of the trust of an infirm person”.
The victim’s daughter, Ashley, 24, a dental nurse who now lives in England, told the court at an earlier hearing that her father had poor health and had suffered a stroke.
He suffered another stroke in March 2009, just days after his 60th birthday, and was rushed to the Western General Hospital.
After being released, Mr Paterson employed Macrae to help with his cleaning and shopping for £60 a week from the start of 2010.
The court heard that Mr Paterson, a retired merchant seaman who received a £180 a week pension, was again taken to hospital in April 2010 suffering from an abscess to his ankle.
His daughter travelled to the Capital to be with her family, and while visiting his flat in Wardie Place East she found Post Office receipts for withdrawals from his account which made her suspicious.
The withdrawals included £600 taken out on January 26, 2010, another £400 three days later, and £405 on February 4.
Ms Paterson said: “He had a lot of cash in the house that Christmas. He shouldn’t have needed more and more money. He was in a second-floor flat in a wheelchair. He never went out and he wasn’t eating.”
Ms Paterson told the court that she went with her mother to speak to Macrae about the withdrawals and found her to be “really nervous”.
She added that Macrae then told her she had borrowed £500 to pay a tax bill then admitted borrowing another £1000 for mortgage payments, both with Mr Paterson’s agreement.
Ms Paterson said she went to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to speak with her father when Macrae phoned her during the car journey, offering to pay back £100 then a month then telling her the alleged loans had “nothing to do with you”.
Ms Paterson told the court that her father was crying when he realised what had happened and told her no loan arrangements had been made.
Her father was later moved into residential care then returned to his home. He died in January 2011.
Pc Gayle Jack told the court that she interviewed Mr Paterson in hospital that April and said he found it difficult to speak. “He appeared to be a very unwell man,” she added.
Pc Jack said that he told her, “the only person who could’ve taken the money is Michelle”.
Following the verdict, Ashley told the Evening News: “I’m pleased that after two-and-a-half years of hell this is finally over. It broke my father’s heart that someone he trusted could do that to him.”
Macrae, of Ferry Gait Walk, Muirhouse, had been on trial for stealing £1500 between January and April 2010. She was found guilty of a charge of stealing an “unknown sum” of money from Mr Paterson.
Sentencing of Macrae was deferred until later this month for reports.