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Greenock care worker stole from MS sufferer

A THIEVING former care worker who ‘preyed’ on a multiple sclerosis sufferer and an elderly stroke victim was yesterday spared a prison sentence — despite a string of ‘gross breaches of trust’ against her vulnerable victims.

Shamed Cherylanne Rodriguez callously swiped a £600 gold and diamond ring, then sold it to a Greenock pawn shop — pocketing just £40 from the fraudulent transaction.

In a separate scam, she stole a frail and heavily dependant 79-year-old woman’s debit card and used it to plunder her bank account by purchasing goods for herself, the town’s sheriff court was told.

But, for the sake of her two children, Rodriguez — who was sacked by Greenock-based Cottage Care Services when her crimes came to light — won’t be locked up.

Sheriff Derek Hamilton told the tearful 34-year-old: “These clearly are very serious offences. I can think of few crimes that are more abhorrent than preying on vulnerable individuals like you did.”

The lawman — who ordered Rodriguez to complete hundreds of hours of unpaid work as a direct alternative to custody — added: “Your personal circumstances come way down the pecking order as far as I’m concerned, but I also must consider the impact that a custodial sentence would have on your children.”

Rodriguez abused her position as a trusted care worker in order to fleece her victims in their own homes — in Gourock and Inverkip — during a five day period in September 7 and 12 last year.

The court heard that she stole the ring from a former nurse who had been forced to give up her career through ill health after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Procurator fiscal depute David Glancy said that the woman had left the item on a shelf in the wet room of the specially adapted Inverkip home she shares with her husband, and then the thief went in behind her and took it.

Mr Glancy said: “When the couple were getting ready to go on holiday, the lady observed that the item of jewellery was no longer where she’d put it.

“On their return they went through clothing and also their bins as they tried to locate the ring.

“It was of sentimental value but also had a cash value of £600.”

Rodriguez, of Belville Avenue, Greenock, took the gold trilogy diamond ring to a pawnbroker’s shop in the Oak Mall on the afternoon of September 16 and sold it for the paltry sum of cash.

Prosecutor Mr Glancy said: “Police, who commendably had the bit between their teeth regarding this inquiry, visited the pawnbroker’s and various checks were carried out.

“The ring had been sent to the company’s premises in England and steps were taken to retrieve it, and this was done last November.”

On the debit card offence, the fiscal depute said: “The complainer is 79-year-old client of the care company who lives with her husband in Gourock.

“The woman suffered a stroke and has limited mobility, which has resulted in her being visited by carers four times per day.

“The household received a statement from the bank and a number of transactions made no sense to her husband.

“He reflected on who would have had access to the bank card and contacted the accused’s employers to alert them.

“Following a fairly lengthy investigation, the finger of suspicion began to point in the direction of the accused.”

Rodriguez — who refused to plead guilty to the charges when she first appeared in court on the matter  — had used the debit card to buy £37 worth of items from the Morrisons supermarket petrol station in Greenock.

Her lawyer told the court that she had been ‘experiencing personal and financial difficulties’ at the time of the offences, which ultimately netted her a total of just £77.

The solicitor said: “This is obviously a very serious matter. The breach of trust is not lost on her.”

But he added: “I would submit that there is a realistic and credible alternative to custody available in the form of a community payback order at the higher level of the scale.”

The court heard how Rodriguez — who is now unemployed and on benefits — is currently going through an ‘acrimonious divorce’ from the father of her children.

Thief Rodriguez, her face reddening, sat weeping quietly in the dock and wiping away her tears as Sheriff Hamilton told her: “I’m informed that you have shown remorse but I don’t necessarily agree with that.

“I consider this to be extremely serious. There was a gross breach of trust here against not one, but two people, and that shows a pattern of offending.”

The sheriff said he had to balance the public’s abhorrence at Rodriguez’s crimes with the long term interests of her children.

He ordered her, ‘with some hesitation’, to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work within 12 months.

The sheriff warned Rodriguez: “You are so close to custody here. If you mess around with this order you will come back before me and you will go to prison.”

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by GREENOCKTELEGRAPH
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length


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