A Gympie woman has pleaded guilty to stealing a dementia patient's money more than 10 years ago.
A Gympie woman has pleaded guilty to stealing a dementia patient's money more than 10 years ago. Obencem

Woman stole more than $90k from elderly dementia patient

SHE helped defraud a 74-year-old dementia sufferer for more than $90,000 as a teenager, but a much older Chelsea Diane Leigh only faced court for her offence this week.

Leigh, 30, pleaded guilty to one count of fraud with aggravation of more than $5000 in Gympie District Court on Wednesday.

But, as Judge Glen Cash pointed out, the true amount stolen was "substantially" more than $5000.

The true amount was some $95,000, with about $30,000 personally gained by Leigh.

The court was told Leigh, aged 19 and 20 during the offending in late 2007 and early 2008, assisted another person in defrauding the "vulnerable" dementia patient by providing her bank details for the victim to make desposits into, with the benefit of being paid a percentage of the stolen amounts.

Leigh reportedly discovered the dishonesty of the deposits while it was going on, but still allowed more than $80,000 to go through her account.

She made "extensive" admissions, implicated the co-offender and provided a written statement against that offender when police interviewed her in 2010, but the case took another bizarre turn.

After being charged, Leigh "somehow" thought the matter was finalised and left the state, and it wasn't until late 2017 on returning to Queensland she was picked up on a warrant.

The implicated co-offender has never been located.

Judge Cash still considered Leigh's guilty plea a timely one but called her offending "reprehensible".

"You must be deeply ashamed," he said. "To have participated in stealing such an amount of money from an elderly person who suffers from dementia is just appalling conduct."

He said her young age during the offending and her rehabilitation since were also considered in handing her a two-year suspended jail sentence.

Gympie Times


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