Dental nurse took £70,000 from elderly aunt who was needed for care payments

Kerry Sinclair’s scam was only discovered when care payments could not be met.

Kerry Sinclair took the huge sum of money from relative Jessie Sutherland after she was granted power of attorney to handle the pensioner’s financial affairs.

Sinclair, 39, arranged the sale of Ms Sutherland’s home to pay for fees owed to the nursing home she had been placed in by the family.

But Sinclair – who had already been declared bankrupt – began taking large sums of money from Ms Sutherland by making cash debits and withdrawals from her bank account over an 18-month period.

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Edinburgh Sheriff’s Court was told the heartless scam was only uncovered after care home payments could not be honored and the local authority launched an investigation.

Sinclair, of Granton, Edinburgh, appeared in City Sheriff’s Court on Friday and admitted to embezzling £71,425.63 between November 9, 2017 and May 5, 2019.

Prosecutor Jack Castor said Ms Sutherland was diagnosed with vascular dementia and her health began to deteriorate rapidly in 2016.

Her niece Sinclair is said to have been ‘a regular visitor’ to her aunt’s home in the capital’s Warriston area.

The court heard she then convinced Ms Sutherland’s son James to be appointed to handle his aunt’s financial affairs.

The taxman said Sinclair should not have been allowed to serve as attorney due to her bankruptcy in 2016.

The tax authorities said Ms Sutherland, then 68, was staying at the city’s Gylemuir House care home in June 2017 and would have “sufficient funds” to pay the costs herself.

She was then moved to Forthland Lodge care home later that year and Sinclair then contacted her cousin James to say that funds had run out and Mrs Sutherland’s house had to be sold.

The house sold for £155,000 in May 2018, but Sinclair contacted Edinburgh City Council 12 months later to tell them her aunt did not have the money to continue paying for care.

Council officials have launched an investigation into Ms Sutherland’s finances and a shortfall of around £75,000 has been identified.

The court heard the board’s investigation identified Sinclair, a part-time dental nurse, who made cash debits and withdrawals from Jessie’s account.

Mr Castor added that Ms Sutherland died on December 12 last year aged 72 but was able to stay at the care home with the costs paid by local authorities.

Sheriff Wendy Sheehan told Sinclair she shouldn’t be “under any illusions, custody is at the forefront of the court’s mind.”

The Sheriff added: “I appreciate that you take regular care of your aunt and visit her regularly at home and at the nursing home and there is no doubt that you care about her, but you were in a position of trust.”

Sinclair was released on bail and the sentence was postponed for reporting until next month.

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