Nicola Brimage, 32, was branded “as low as it gets” in court yesterday after a judge heard she “just kept on spending” the money of her victim, a housebound 78-year-old woman with Parkinson’s disease. The court heard Brimage splurged most of the £5,948.50 on luxury items off Amazon and eBay between February 2021 and July 2021.
But when the pensioner went into her overdraft, NatWest contacted the victim, who in turn told her son, who checked bank statements and compiled a spreadsheet, which he gave to the police.
Officers spoke to Amazon, eBay and PayPal, who discovered the greedy carer had used her own name and email account when making £5,948.50 of purchases.
When police arrested Brimage in September last year at her home, officers found the items she bought online.
But Brimage was given a suspended jail term yesterday Liverpool Crown Court despite finally admitting the theft.
Recorder Michael Blakey handed her a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, with a 15-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and 80 hours of unpaid work.
He said Brimage behaved in a “disgraceful way,” Liverpool Echo reports.
Sentencing the woman, Recorder Blakey said: “She (the victim) trusted you as a person who would do your best to help her and certainly not steal anything from her.
“You accept by virtue of your guilty plea that what you did was wrong. It was in fact worse than that. It was a breach of trust, that lady’s trust.
“It was a disgraceful way to behave as a healthcare professional.”
But the judge acknowledged Brimage’s good character and believed there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation.
Brimage sobbed in the dock when a heartbreaking victim impact statement was read.
The pensioner said the crime had “devastated” her.
She added: “Sometimes my carers are the only people I see in a day and since this happened, I’ve been left feeling worried that I shouldn’t trust them anymore.
“If Nicola had needed money she just had to ask me. She didn’t need to steal from me.”
Paul Blasbery, prosecuting, said: “The victim said she placed a lot of trust in Nicola. She liked her, respected her and appreciated the things she had done for her. When she found out Nicola had stolen all this money from her, she was devastated.
“She thought she could trust Nicola and her other carers. She was embarrassed she had been taken for a fool by someone who took advantage of her vulnerability.
“She said she once lent Nicola £50, when she said she was short of cash. Instead of appreciating the gesture, she took advantage of her, stealing from her more than 300 times.
“I understand carers are not well paid. I think the job they do is amazing. I’ve always appreciated everything my carers have done for me.
“I feel taking advantage of elderly people is cruel and as low as it gets.
“One day Nicola will be old and vulnerable too. I hope she doesn’t find herself the victim of a younger person taking advantage of her and stealing from her.
“I really hope that Nicola has learned an important lesson from this and will change her ways in the future.”
Brimage, from Bidston, Merseyside, started helping her victim with shopping in early 2021 but this was against the rules of the care agency she worked for.
The pensioner provided her cash card and PIN, and trusted Brimage to visit ATMs and withdraw cash.
But the carer soon started to abuse this trust, withdrawing several large sums at different stages.
Mr Blasbery added: “She stated she didn’t realise how much she had spent. She said she just kept on spending.”
NatWest has since reimbursed the victim in full.
Brimage, who has no previous convictions, was “a very low point” last year, the judge heard.
Ben Berkson, defending, said: “Nothing I will say will underplay the greedy and callous crime here.
“Downtrodden, controlled, shamed and abused by a previous long term partner, she sadly instructs me she felt worthless and it was that lack of confidence and hope which switched off her usual sense of right and wrong.”
“Clearly the loss of her job and a career she treasured has been a horrible loss for her as well.”
Brimage lost her agency job and is now looking for work.