A woman was left devastated after she discovered the best friend she hired to care for her 102-year-old great aunt stole £16,000 of jewellery from the blind OAP.
Sara Otter, 33, hired Yasmin Pugh, 31, to care for disabled Beryl Isaac in Llanelli, Wales.
Yet the thief raided Beryl’s jewellery box and made off with engagement and wedding rings, and a sentimental locket containing photos of Sara’s late brother.
Pugh also pocketed money from Sara’s five-year-old niece’s piggy bank, all while being paid to care for the ailing centenarian.
She even comforted Sara’s sobbing mum, Lynne Reed, 62, reassuring her the jewellery would turn up, after the family noticed it was missing, they said.
Pugh was discovered as the thief some of the items were tracked down to a gold sales shop, although most of the jewellery was never recovered, Sara said.
Full-time carer Sara, from Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales, said: ‘She was my best friend – so when we first noticed things going missing I was adamant it wasn’t Yasmin.
Beryl Isaac, 102, was being cared for by her grandniece’s close friend Yasmin Pugh, 31, who stole thousands of pounds worth of jewlerry from her
Pugh pleaded guilty to a single count of theft and was given a 16-month suspended prison sentence at Swansea Crown Court
Sara Otter, 33, (right) hired Yasmin Pugh, 31, (left) to care from disabled Beryl Isaac in Llanelli, Wales
‘The more we started looking for things, the more we noticed was missing – but when she first denied it, I believed her.
‘It’s not so much about the cost – she knew how sentimental those items were to us but she didn’t care.
‘What’s the worst thing is my great aunt was totally oblivious to what was going on behind the scenes and we have had to lie to her about why Yasmin had to leave.
‘I feel absolutely heartbroken – not only did we lose irreplaceable family jewellery but my trust was totally betrayed by someone I classed as a close friend.’
The thief raided Beryl’s jewellery box and made off with engagement and wedding rings, and a sentimental locket containing photos of Sara’s late brother
Cash worth £50 was also missing from Sara’s five-year-old niece’s piggy bank as well as more than £200 in gift cards that had been stashed in a drawer
Pugh pleaded guilty to a single count of theft and was given a 16-month suspended prison sentence at Swansea Crown Court.
Sara met Yasmin through work before moving away and losing contact but they quickly became close again when she returned to Llanelli in February.
She begged for help from Sara, claiming she had no job and no money to pay her rent, so Sara agreed to hire her to look after Beryl a few days a week.
After starting in June, Yasmin seemed to be thriving and Beryl became fond of her.
But soon Sara’s mum, Lynne, went to dig out jewellery to wear for a wedding on July 20, which was when she spotted her own wedding and engagement rings were missing.
After scouring the house she realised all of the boxes containing family jewellery were empty, including seven gold bracelets, an 18 carat gold pocket watch and a locket that contained photographs of Sara’s late brother and grandmother.
Sara said: ‘We know we won’t get the items back so we are devastated. I’m normally a good judge of character but she had me fooled. I’m dumbfounded by it all. We’re heartbroken’
Cash worth £50 was also missing from Sara’s five-year-old niece’s piggy bank as well as more than £200 in gift cards that had been stashed in a drawer.
Sara said: ‘Mum called me to ask if I’d borrowed them, which I obviously hadn’t.
‘When we considered that Yasmin could be responsible, I completely dismissed it.
‘I was adamant it couldn’t be her.
‘She was a close friend and we’d been kind to give her a job when she needed one.
‘I couldn’t believe that a woman who had eaten from my table would throw it back at me.’
Yet as much as she didn’t want to believe it, Sara recalled things weren’t adding up, such as when one day she came round to her mother’s house to see Yasmin darting out of her niece’s bedroom.
Pugh was arrested on August 2 after police traced receipts at a local pawn shop showing Yasmin had sold jewellery to the value of £571.
Sara said: ‘It was mind-blowing how much we had been betrayed. She had come to me to help walk the dogs having been to the pawn shop in secret just hours earlier’
Yasmin confessed to the crimes after previously denying any wrongdoing.
Some items were tracked down and returned to the family – including their precious locket but the thief had binned the irreplaceable photographs from inside.
More than £15,200 worth of stolen items were never found.
Sara said: ‘It was mind-blowing how much we had been betrayed.
‘She had come to me to help walk the dogs having been to the pawn shop in secret just hours earlier.
‘My mother had cried on her shoulder when she realised the jewellery was missing, and Yasmin had comforted her, saying ‘Don’t worry, they’ll turn up’.
‘When I’d questioned her about the missing items, she’d suggested that my mother had misplaced them.’
Yasmin was given a £250 fine, 200 hours of unpaid work and a mandatory rehabilitation course on Wednesday.
Sara added: ‘It’s disgusting to think Yasmin could have been sneaking around stealing things while Beryl was in the room, because she knew she wouldn’t be seen.
‘Yasmin was one of my best friends and she knew how much that jewellery meant to us so what she has done is devastating.’
Sara told how since Yasmin left, the family has no longer been able to trust anyone else to take on the role, meaning Sara had to leave her job to become Beryl’s full-time carer.
The family have also installed locks on every door in the house.
Sara said: ‘We know we won’t get the items back so we are devastated.
‘She was in a position of trust and she took advantage of that.
‘I’m normally a good judge of character but she had me fooled.
‘She knew how sentimental those items were to us but she didn’t care.
‘I’m dumbfounded by it all.