In the Media

Carer stole war medals from the elderly

PUBLISHED April 27, 2012

Lynn McDonagh, 44, would have got away with two years of thefts from vulnerable pensioners if her husband had not reported her to the police after finding the medals at home.

He took 42 pieces of jewellery, watches and medals to the police station and told them he was suspicious his wife was stealing from the elderly she visited as part of her job as a private carer.

Detectives had to trawl through 100 of the clients she had on her books.

Passing sentence at Hull Crown Court today Judge Jeremy Baker, QC, said: "You were caring for the elderly in their own homes. In my judgement you had within you a high degree of trust, but you carried out an extremely mean offence. These objects were not of a high-monetary value, but were of high sentimental value. It involved World War One and World War Two medals that had been presented to people and passed on in their family with high sentimental value.

"It seems to me a custodial sentence is inevitable. Having read the background to this, I have no doubt you husband had mixed motives. But you did yourself no favors by not pleading guilty at the first opportunity."

The court heard McDonagh, 44, of Maude Close, Keyingham, pleaded guilty to three charges of theft between 2009 and 2011 while she worked 45-hours a week for East Riding Quality Home Care Limited.

She visited 11-15 clients a week. McDonagh stole the war medals from the home of Constance Trowell, 83, a retired social worker of Kirkella, near Hull.

She described herself as "very hurt." Her husband had died in 1974 and McDonagh had stolen his Palastine medal, cash and personal papers.

Margaret Rice, 81, lost a locket and chain boughr for her by her husband in the 1950s. Joseph Atkinson, 84, lost his father's First World War medal, a watch, broach, two chain and a locket.

His niece Lorraine Baker who at court to see the sentence said: "It was a heartless thing to do. My uncle is now suspicious of all the carers who visit him. We have had to go and send someone to sit with him today because he knew she was appearing in court and would be sentenced. She has not expressed remorse. We all have things which happen to us in life, but we don't go stealing. She left the court smiling."

Defence barrister John Thackray said: "There is a low risk of re-offending. She has lost her job. The real punishment in this case is the loss of her good character. There are no excuses. The conviction and shame should surfice."

McDonagh was given a three-month suspended prison sentence, ordered to attend the chance to change programme and complete 150 hours unpaid work in the community.