Rumana Khatun landed a trial role as a Covid-19 social carer back in June – despite having already been banned from care work after previous allegations of theft.
The 23-year-old was not convicted of offences relating to those allegations, but in May 2019, the Disclosure and Barring Service handed down an indefinite ban which prevented her from care work.
However, earlier this year Khatun secured employment with one company on a trial basis. Within days she had stolen £480 from vulnerable South Tyneside residents living in sheltered accommodation.
Her victims were left heartbroken by her deceit – with one kind-hearted woman admitting she would have helped her through any hardship if she had only asked.
Last week (October 28) Khatun was put behind bars after admitting engaging in regulated activity from which she was barred and three offences of theft.
Now police have condemned her “heartless” actions at a time when the whole country was pulling together to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.
PC Jason Sweeney, of Northumbria Police, said: “This was an absolutely abhorrent abuse of trust by a woman who preyed on her unsuspecting victims.
“She willingly broke the law, knowing she was banned from care work and targeted a number of elderly victims for purely selfish gain – at a time when the rest of the North-east were showing the community spirit that this region is famed for.
“She should be absolutely ashamed of her behaviour and I am pleased that the severity of her crimes has been recognised with a custodial sentence.
“There is no place for this kind of predatory individual in our communities and I would like to thank the victims for their kindness and cooperation at every step of this investigation.
“We will continue to work with care providers and all our partners across the region in order to protect the most vulnerable in our communities and ensure anyone who does seek to take advantage is swiftly brought to justice.”
The court heard Khatun stole from three residents in the same sheltered accommodation in Hebburn back in June while the experienced carers who she was shadowing were distracted.
After being alerted to the thefts, police quickly identified Khatun as the prime suspect – and found a receipt for a deposit of £480 cash that she had paid into her bank account.
In a statement prepared for court, one victim said: “I feel totally unsettled by this and upset that a person I should trust would do this to us.
“The person who took this money has looked at us as an easy target because we are vulnerable due to age and disability.
“If they needed money all they had to do was ask and I would have given them it.”
Khatun, of Penrith Road, Hebburn, pleaded guilty to engaging in regulated activity from which she was barred and three offences of theft when appearing at Newcastle Crown Court on October 28.
She was subsequently sentenced to six months imprisonment.