A THIEVING carer has been freed after serving just 23 days of a 48-week prison sentence for stealing from a frail widow.

It followed an appeal by 54-year-old Angela Brownson today (June 5) against the sentence imposed at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court last month after she was convicted on four counts of theft.

The offences related to an estimated £530 taken from a 90-year-old partially sighted woman for whom agency worker Brownson provided care services on visits to her Durham City home six days a week, for the last two years.

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Concern arose as the victim kept asking a longer standing carer, who cooked and shopped for her, to withdraw more and more money from her bank account.

Suspicion centred on Brownson, who had only logged three entries for purchases made on the client’s behalf over six months.

A covert camera placed in the victim’s home, with her family’s permission, revealed Brownson pilfering from a purse and a wallet kept secure in a bedroom cupboard.

Durham Crown Court was told it has had a profound effect on the victim who had hoped to see out her days in her own home.

Instead, she became fearful and nervous at being alone at home, lost weight and became so frail she had to move into a care home.

Ian Bradshaw, responding to the appeal on behalf of the Crown, said the sentence imposed by a district judge was made up by consecutive terms of 12 weeks for each of the four theft charges.

But, Penny Bottomley, for Brownson argued it was a harsh punishment for a woman with no previous convictions, who has worked most of her life, given the amounts involved.

Miss Bottomley told the court that prior to be her convictions Brownson, of Hackworth Street, Ferryhill, worked for the care agency for 11 years.

She said Brownson found her first taste of prison “horrifying”, while her incarceration has also had a “profound effect” on her wider family.

Following lengthy consideration, Recorder Ray Singh, sitting with two magistrates, agreed to amend the sentence to comply closer with recommended guidelines.

Recorder Singh said the decision was made, “with some reluctance”, adding: “Many people would think the guidelines were insufficient.”

The sentence was altered to one of six months in custody, suspended for two years, with 200-hours’ unpaid work and a £530 compensation order, to be paid by Brownson within 28 days.