Shocking CCTV pictures show carer Susan Pell twice stealing money from a war veteran who has a life-threatening health condition.
Decorated Second World War hero Peter Carpenter (89), who survived a shipwreck when Germans torpedoed his vessel, is now frail and uses a walking frame to get around his Spalding bungalow.
One set of images caught on camera show Peter in his dressing gown heading for his bedroom and Pell pouncing on his wallet seconds after he leaves his living room.
A second set of images show Pell stealing money from Peter’s wallet also while he is out of the room.
Widower Peter has an aneurysm of the aorta – a bulging section of the body’s main artery – and describes himself as “a ticking time bomb” because it is inoperable and will one day claim his life.
Pell (65), of Church Street, Pinchbeck, pleaded guilty at Boston Magistrates’ Court to stealing a total of £50 from the war veteran, £20 and £30 on two respective occasions, November 1 and 4.
It disgraces the uniform that she wore.Peter’s daughter Elaine Davis
She was sentenced to a year-long community order and ordered to carry out 150 hours unpaid community work as well as paying £50 compensation to Peter and a total of £170 in costs and charges.
The war hero says he would have given Pell £20 if she had told him she was short of money.
But he said he doesn’t believe Pell needed to steal from him and said that she should have received a custodial sentence for taking the money.
He said: “A couple of months in the nick would have done her good. If they gave her two months she would only have done a month.”
A custodial sentence, he says, would show the rest of the world “that it deserves that for someone to nick money out of your wallet”.
He said: “I would sooner have given her £20 if she had asked.”
Peter has arthritis and says he is “a ticking time bomb” because doctors can’t operate on his aortic aneurysm – because he would die on the operating table – and the condition itself will kill him.
He said: “It’s 5.6cm at the moment and when it gets to 7cm it will burst and you are dead in four minutes.”
Peter faces ill health with the same courage that saw him go to war in 1943 at the age of 15 when he joined the Merchant Navy.
He was on ships in the perilous Arctic Convoys and supporting the Allied landings in Normandy.
Peter was also one of only 12 survivors when his ship was torpedoed and he literally swam for his life.
“I still have nightmares about it,” he said.
Only last year Peter was honoured again for his wartime service when he was presented with the Veterans Star and Merchant Navy Service Medal.
Peter has received a written apology from Pell but it hasn’t lessened the blow of the thefts, which he found sickening, and it cut no ice with his daughters, Elaine Davis and Susan Carpenter, who attended court.
Elaine, who was involved in the caring profession as a nurse for more than 35 years, said: “It just sickens me. It disgraces the uniform that she wore.”
She said the only good thing was that Pell had ceased work as a carer.
Susan said the breach of trust involved was a real blow to her dad. “This has just devastated him,” she said.
• In court Marie Stace, prosecuting, told magistrates the theft victim was a vulnerable person who had health problems and Pell had been working as a carer for him, going in twice a week to help him with his personal hygiene.
She said Mr Carpenter realised money was being taken from him and marked notes in his wallet so that he could check if any were missing after people who went to his home had gone.
She said his family had set up CCTV cameras and Pell was seen on two occasions to take money from his wallet, totalling £50, while he was in the bathroom washing.
In a personal statement to the court, Mr Carpenter said he had health issues with an aneurysm and arthritis and had paid for carers to come to the house since June 2015.
He said he had been shocked to see CCTV images of Pell stealing from him and had been left depressed and feeling vulnerable.
“If she was short of money I would have given her £20,” he said.
In mitigation, Sonya Bhalla said Pell had no previous convictions and had never been inside a courtroom before.
She said Pell had found herself in debt but could not offer any reason why she had stolen the money as she had no need to as she could have asked her husband for it.
Ms Bhalla said Pell was ‘extremely remorseful’ and had written a letter of apology to Mr Carpenter and had now stopped working as a carer.
Magistrates told Pell she had ‘betrayed the trust placed in you’ and said they had heard of the ‘distress and shock to the victim’.
Magistrates also said that Pell had ‘placed suspicion on other people who went to the house’.