A CARER stole more than £7,000 from an elderly man who she was looking after to fund her cocaine and gambling addictions.

Paige James was one of two carers assigned to look after a 79-year-old man after he was released from hospital. James, who worked for Pembrokeshire Care, knew the man and initially “seemed to be going the extra mile to assist him”, prosecutor Ieuan Rees told Swansea Crown Court.

However, she began to ask to borrow money from him – giving a range of excuses including that her credit card had been closed, that she had been threatened with eviction, and that she didn’t have any means of transport and would lose her job because of it.

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James spoke with the victim’s son and told him that he had lent her money, but the scale of her offending was only discovered when the son checked his father’s bank account.

Between July 2020 and January 2022, James had taken £7,094.11 from her victim under the guise of borrowing it.

“None of it has been repaid,” Mr Rees said.

In an interview with police, James maintained that she had borrowed the money, telling officers she had been fined for having no insurance and also needed money to pay for her car to be repaired.

However, when officers examined her bank account, they found she had spent £67,939.67 on gambling sites during that period.

James, 30, of Howarth Close in Milford Haven, later pleaded guilty to one offence of fraud by abuse of position.

Anthony O’Connell, in mitigation, said James was “entirely remorseful and ashamed” of her actions.

“They came at a time she was gripped by a cocaine addiction and spiralling gambling debt,” he said. “She had lost control of her life.

“She certainly does not blame anyone other than herself.

“She made a foolish decision to get some money.”

Mr O’Connell said that the defendant was now an “entirely different” person to the one that committed the offences as she had since undertaken two periods of residential rehabilitation. He added that she was now just short of two years without drinking, drugs, or gambling.

Addressing James, Judge Geraint Walters said: “You do not need me to tell you that the public take very unkindly towards people committing these type of offences.

“All of us have relatives that are elderly. All of us would regard anyone scamming them as being a person capable of committing the meanest of offences.”

Judge Walters said that James’ victim had been generous enough to offer for her to borrow the money, but she had systematically helped herself to more money than he had agreed.

He sentenced James to 10 months, suspended for two years. As part of this, she must complete 200 hours of unpaid work and 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

James was also ordered to repay the £7,094.11 in full. Judge Walters noted that it would be “a big ask” for her to do so as she was not currently in work, but that it would be “an affront to justice” if her victim was left out of pocket.