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Carer swindled pensioner out of £54k for gastric band op

SWINDLER: Maria McCalla

A SLY carer has been jailed for 32 months for robbing a pensioner with dementia out of her £54,000 life savings to pay for a gastric band operation and a games console.

Maria McCalla, 31, withdrew more than £38,000 from 82-year-old Vera Haselden’s account, and convinced the pensioner to sign cheques to her for £10,000 and £6,000, the Evening Standard reported.

Harrow crown court was told that the single mother had been Haselden’s carer for two months when she started the fraud, in June 2014.

McCalla, from Wembley, is reported to have spent the money on a gastric band operation for weight loss and her children’s school fees as well as an X-Box games console and clothes.

Following the revelation that McCalla had amassed high levels of debt across 17 credit cards, the pensioner offered to borrow her £16,000.

McCalla then withdrew £13,400 and £24,760 at a bank counter using Haselden’s card and PIN.

A concerned bank clerk is reported to have sparked the investigation after tipping off the police about McCalla’s activities.

McCalla initially claimed the money had been gifts before eventually pleading guilty to two counts of fraud and two counts of theft.

Recorder Andrew Hearn sentenced the mother-of-two to two years and eight months behind bars.

“The consequences for Miss Haselden have been enormous because she lived in fear of entering a care home and the whole point of employing you was so she could stay at home,” he said.

“She now has no capital and as a consequence has gone into a care home. She told the police she feels like she is in a prison, ending up where she did not want to be.”

McCalla's lawyer Malik Aldeiri agreed she initially denied the offences. "She was living in a bubble of false reality and denial. She felt like a great weight had been lifted off her shoulders when she confessed her mistakes. She took responsibility."

McCalla blamed her money woes on depression and gambling. She was also ordered to pay £500 in court costs.

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