Carer spared prison for stealing from blind man

A 64-YEAR-OLD carer with a gambling addiction stole £8,000 from a blind man. Widow Barbara Purdy, 64, of Chewton Street, Eastwood, helped herself to cash from Robert Bentley’s bank account.

Nottingham Crown Court was told he described her as his “lifeline” and would have asked her to marry him.

“He got a phone call from his bank in September,” said Robbie Singh, prosecuting. “It was apparent most of his money in his bank had gone and this defendant had taken the majority of that money. There was £2,050 in cash and over £2,500 taken with his debit card. A credit card, opened without his knowledge, was used to get £3,400.”

When Mr Bentley confronted Purdy, she broke down in tears, apologised and blamed gambling problems.

“She was arrested in May and made full admissions,” said Mr Singh. “She had sold the house she and her husband had, spent that on gambling and was £40,000 in debt.”

Despite her dishonesty, Mr Bentley still calls her his lifeline and continues to rely on her.

At an earlier hearing, she pleaded guilty to her dishonesty.

The court heard her husband, Barry Purdy, used to take Mr Bentley shopping before he died four years ago.

She then began helping Mr Bentley, who was registered blind and on oxygen for impaired lung function.

He lived alone, had never married, had no children and no help from social services.

He came to rely on Mrs Purdy, as well as a district nurse one day a week.

Judge Dudley Bennett said the pre-sentence report on Purdy expressed her shame.

He said: “Your counsel is right. It’s absolutely tragic to have to sentence a 64-year-old women who has never done anything wrong in her life before this happened and who has actually done a lot right.

“It’s plain you were sorry from an early stage. You have pleaded guilty. The reason all this happened is, critically I believe, you couldn’t help yourself. That’s why I say it was akin to a mental illness at the time and you couldn’t stop it; it’s like a drug.”

He said Mr Bentley continued to trust the defendant and she was especially kind to him.

The judge said: “He doesn’t want me to stop that, and I won’t.

“It’s a really serious piece of behaviour.

“Take just a pound from him and you will go to prison.”

He imposed a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, and said she must attend all Gamblers Anonymous appointments.

“If you breach this order, I will send you down.”

Sarah Munro, mitigating, said the secretary of Gamblers Anonymous was in court.

She added: “They are wicked offences. He is a vulnerable victim and there are several aggravating features.

“He has described her as his lifeline and relies on her even to this day. She is assessed as low-risk [of re-offending].”