Theft From An Elderly Couple
An older couple were being looked after by their cousin, who stole over £7,000 from them. The victims had some physical health and communication difficulties and dementia. They were being looked after by their cousin (the offender) and their daughter. The case was received via the Police Out of Court team for the service to facilitate the mandatory condition for an apology.
Over a period of time, the offender stole from the victims via their bank card. When the theft was discovered, all contact ceased. The offender was given a Conditional Caution with a letter of apology condition as the victims did not wish for the offender to be prosecuted. The letter of apology was written and shared with the victims, who wished to respond. This resulted in face-to-face visits with both parties to exchange information.
The victims described the incident as devastating. It was a massive breach of trust by someone they loved and the money was seemingly used to fund extravagant expenditure. They were disappointed with the lack of detail in the letter of apology.
The offender was also devastated, and could not really explain or understand her actions. She explained that she had been under considerable financial and family pressures and did not regard herself as a dishonest person. She had intended to pay the money back, but after she had done it once, it was easy to repeat. She was racked with guilt and remorse as the victim’s comments were passed on to her. The letter was short because there was not much she could say. She realised that she might never be forgiven, or allowed back into the victims’ lives, but was desperate to resume some form of contact. Facilitators gave her some signposting information.
Following two face-to-face meetings, the victims decided they wanted no further contact with the offender, who was accepting of this. The offender stated that she respected their decision but that her ‘door was always open’.
The victims were very grateful for the opportunity to talk through the situation and hear the offender’s explanations, which allowed them to come to their own conclusions, bringing the matter to an end. They expressed their thanks to the facilitators on several occasions throughout the process.
The process enabled the offender to pass on her apologies, explanations and remorse and to attempt to establish some form of contact.