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Carer stole from 89-year-old Norwich woman

PUBLISHED: 07:50 28 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:50 01 July 2010

Norwich Magistrates' Court

Norwich Magistrates' Court

David Bale

A carer who stole £3,420 from an 89-year-old Norwich woman has escaped jail - after her barrister told city magistrates she was a former asylum seeker whose family had all been killed in Africa.

A carer who stole £3,420 from an 89-year-old Norwich woman has escaped jail - after her barrister told city magistrates she was a former asylum seeker whose family had all been killed in Africa.

Lorna Kaneza, 28, wrote out three cheques - each for £1,140 - from the woman's account over a four months period last year, a court heard.

Her crime was only discovered when the woman's grandson, who had power of attorney, checked her banking records.

Kaneza, who had pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to the three offences of theft, appeared at Norwich Magistrates' Court on Wednesday for sentencing with custody an option.

Magistrates jailed her for 26 weeks for each of the three offences to run concurrently, but suspended it for 12 months.

Prosecuting, Judith Piggen said: “The elderly woman the defendant cared for lived alone in a private home and needed constant care as she was blind in one eye and partially sighted in the other.

“She has since become more poorly and has moved to a residential home.

“The defendant falsely made out three cheques to herself made out on the woman's account. Each one was for £1140, which is the equivalent to two weeks' salary for a carer, whilst carers were normally paid weekly.

“The defendant was arrested last December. The £3,420 has not been recovered.”

In mitigation, Ian Fisher said the defendant was born in the African country of Burundi and her parents and siblings had been killed by the government in the 1990s, whilst she was at boarding school in Nairobi.

He said: “She never went back to Burundi and she was granted asylum 10 years ago and has gained British citizenship.

“She also has a rare genetic disorder which means she is in constant pain and needs to take medication.

“She regrets the offences she committed and it is not reprsentative of the type of person she is. She was besotted by a man at the time she took the money and was in a desperate situation. He has subsequently left her with a small child to bring up on her own.”

Mr Fisher also called on magistrates to take into account that the UK prison population was at an all-time high, and courts were advised to avoid immediate custodial sentences if they could.

Kaneza, from Morey Street, Coventry, was ordered to pay £500 compensation but no order for costs was made, as she is on benefits.

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