A niece stole £21,000 from her great-aunt’s bank account while the 83-year-old was suffering from dementia in hospital.
Michaela Cameron (25) used to run errands and get messages for Falkirk resident Elizabeth Pawlowski, but, while the elderly woman was in hospital and then a care home, she kept her bank card and over a seven-month period withdrew £21,380 from her account at the TSB.
The missing cash was discovered after a social worker checked Mrs Pawlowski’s mail.
Appearing at Stirling Sheriff Court on Tuesday, Cameron wept as she admitted the offence she committed between March and October in 2014.
Sarah Lumsden, procurator fiscal depute, said: “The accused was confronted and she hung her head and produced Mrs Pawlowski’s bank card from her purse. She said she had been given the card to get some shopping.
“She said her boyfriend had been using drugs and was pressuring her to take money from the account.”
Cameron had so far managed to repay only £190.
Sheriff William Gilchrist said: “The theft of such a large sum of money is a gross breach of trust, and one that would almost inevitably be met with a custodial sentence.”
However, he noted Cameron was physically threatened by her drug addict partner to reveal her great-aunt’s PIN number.
Cameron, of Dunlop Terrace, Maybole, was placed on a community payback order with the condition she complete 300 hours unpaid work.