A FORMER Sunday school teacher stole valuable possessions from two vulnerable pensioners while working as a carer at their homes in the Leeds area, a court heard.
Mother-of-three Bridget Eardley, 56, stole an antique silver toast rack worth £350 from an 80-year-old Alzheimer’s sufferer’s kitchen, Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard.
Eardley also took a £375 coat from a partially sighted 87-year-old man’s home and later said she threw it away “in a panic” because her dog had urinated on it.
Eardley, of Micklethwaite Grove, Wetherby, was working as a carer for Boston Spa-based Grayson Home Care Ltd when she stole from the pensioners.
The court heard the offences happened in October and December 2013 when Eardley was going through a “dark period” in her life.
Eardley had been drinking heavily and was depressed after she and her hospital consultant husband divorced.
Eardely, who admitted two charges of theft, was sentenced to a 12-month community order plus 200 hours unpaid work.
And she was ordered to pay a total of £725 compensation.
The court heard Eardley is in a “financially good position” due to the maintenance money she receives from her ex-husband.
Prosecutor, Suzanne Page said in October 2013 Eardley was helping at an 80-year-old dementia sufferer’s house for a few hours a day so the family member who looked after him could do other jobs.
Miss Page said the relative left Eardley in charge of clearing up after breakfast on one occasion and later noticed an antique silver toast rack was missing.
In December 2013, Eardley was helping care for an 87-year-old partially sighted man when his coat went missing.
Surbjit Toor, of West Yorkshire Probation Service, told the court: “The family had been split up and she was in the process of selling the family home and moving with her three children.
“She did part-time work simply to have some structure in her life.”
Mr Toor said Eardley told him one pensioner she was caring for liked dogs so she took her dog to see him. “She tells me in panic she took the coat to try to get it cleaned but as she cleaned it got worse so she took it to recycling.”
Mr Toor said: “She was at the time drinking quite heavily, not thinking straight. She was suffering from depression.”
He added: “She says she was a Sunday School teacher for 15 years and is involved with the church. She is very regretful and remorseful these offences took place.
“She is financially in a good position. Her ex-husband does pay her a large amount of maintenance money.”
Mitigating, Yasmin Khan, said: “Clearly it was a very dark period in her life. These offences took place in the backdrop of her personal circumstances. She has sought help for her alcoholism. She has not had a drink since that time.”
Sentencing Eardley, deputy district judge Nick Hayles told her: “These two individuals from whom you took items were vulnerable individuals who trusting that you would be looking after them, rather than taking their property.”
The court heard Eardley was sacked from her carer’s job at Grayson Home Care Home Ltd.
Mark Grayson, managing director of Grayson Home Care Ltd, said after the hearing: “We are a small family business, the security of our clients is a priority and we take very seriously the integrity of all our staff.”
He added: “My wife and I are deeply saddened that this has happened, but thankful she has been brought to justice.”