Sally Murphy, aged 37, of Saxholme Walk, Wythenshawe, pleaded guilty at Manchester Crown Court to stealing the rings from 88-year-old Joyce Reeves, when she was being cared for at Marion Lauder House residential care home in Woodhouse Park. The victim died several weeks after the thefts from an unrelated cause.
The victim’s family said they were “distressed and saddened” by the loss of the rings which were given to Mrs Reeves by her husband 68-years-ago. They were recovered by police a few days after the theft.
The crime came to light when Mrs Reeves’ daughter-in-law visited her on 7 October 2013 and noticed that her usual rings – a yellow gold wedding band, yellow gold eternity ring with three diamonds on a raised setting and an engagement ring with a yellow gold band and a raised white gold setting with three small diamonds – were missing from her wedding finger.
She searched the room and reported the missing rings to staff at the home, before calling the police on 9 October.
A few days later an officer went to the Money Shop, Civic Centre, Wythenshawe, and recovered the stolen rings from the shop. Enquiries revealed they had been sold to them by Murphy, who worked at the home as a care assistant.
She is thought to have stolen the rings when she was in the unit between 5am and 8am on 7 October 2013.
It later emerged that Murphy had also sold an eternity ring after taking it without permission from her own 55-year-old mother, whom she resided with. She sold this ring for £10.
Inspector Debbie Weake, based at Wythenshawe Police Station said: “Murphy’s betrayal of trust was shocking and exploitative on a number of levels. Not only did she prise three rings from the hand of a no-doubt sleeping woman with dementia, but she even flogged her own mother’s jewellery for a paltry amount of cash.
“Clearly Murphy knew no shame and couldn’t care less about the heartbreak caused by her thievery. She worked in the caring profession and she should have been one of the people these pensioners can completely trust. Murphy has already lost her job at the home and now, with today’s sentence, her downfall is complete.”
Joyce’s family also released the following statement: “These rings held great sentimental value having been bought some 68 years ago by her now late husband.
“Considering her health at the time of the theft it all seems extremely cruel that someone would take them off her finger. We, the family, do not understand how the theft of these rings could in way be justified particularly from someone so vulnerable and by someone in a position of trust.
“The family have been saddened and distressed by this whole affair and it is made even more difficult to deal with when our mum, grandmother and great grandmother has passed away only three weeks ago.”