Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Carer Jailed For £27K Theft After Veteran Crime Writer Solved Her Own Missing Money Mystery

Behind Bars: Vicky Stallon
An award-winning crime writer solved her own case after deducting her friend and former carer - who was jailed today - had emptied her bank account of £27,000.

US-born novelist Marian Babson, 86, - real name Ruth Stenstreem - has penned forty-five books and received the prestigious Dagger in the Library award from the Crime Writers Association for her body of work.

She is now suffering dementia and is wheelchair-bound, but retains her independence at her central London flat with the help of carers, employed via social services.

Vicky Stallon, 27, of Varndell Street, Regent's Park was her paid carer and over a five-month period took envelopes, stuffed with thousands of pounds, blowing the lot gambling online.

She was sentenced to fourteen months imprisonment after pleading guilty to stealing the sum between April 1 and September 30, last year.

Life's A Drag: Vicky Stallon
"You found a soft target and repeatedly preyed on that lady," Judge Peter Clarke QC told the first-time offender. "She did not know what was going on until she could not find three thousand pounds.

"You must have recognised the vulnerability of Ms Stenstreem and the least you could do as her carer was respect that. The money was spent on self-indulgence.

"Once you found you had an easy victim you returned several times and took money. This is an offence that can only be described as callous."

Stallon was employed to help Ms Stenstreem, who lives in an apartment in Trinity Court, Gray's Inn Road, and kept seeing her and stealing money after this came to an end.

After the author discovered the missing money Stallon was quizzed by police. "She said she continued to see her because she felt like family, denying she took money from her," said prosecutor Miss Mary Loram.

It was only when police found she paid £13,680 into her own bank, often within an hour of Ms Stenstreem's withdrawals, that she partially-confessed.

Stallon maintained the remaining £13,320 was nothing to do with her - even suggesting other carers had taken it - but eventually admitted she had blown it in betting shops.

Mystery Writer: Marian Babson
"She stole significant amounts of money from her and after the period of employment came to and end she carried on visiting on a regular basis under the guise of friendship," added Miss Loram.

"Ms Stenstreem regularly withdrew large amounts of cash from two bank branches and the defendant would accompany her to these banks.

"After her employment began the withdrawals became much larger and in particular there were ten, which were in the thousands of pounds.

"Ms Stenstreem was a very successful crime writer. She is not bankrupt or destitute and does have savings."

The court made no compensation order because Stallon has no assets.

Her lawyer Mr. Richard Barratt said: "She spiralled down into significant depression and the best way to alleviate that was gambling, which she describes as an out of body experience.

"She realised there were large amounts of cash in envelopes sitting around the home and that became an easy source of money and went back time and time again.

"She accepts it is utterly appalling what she did. She has tried suicide once and the probation report says in a custodial environment she is at risk of trying again."

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