A Victorian aged care worker has been convicted in court and banned from the profession for 10 years after spending thousands of clients’ money on luxury items with their debit cards.
Ashpreet Kaur, 23, was employed as a personal care worker at a Geelong retirement village until she stopped attending work at the end of February 2023.
Appearing in the Geelong Magistrates Court on Monday, Ms Kaur was found to have used the bank card of an 86-year-old resident, who lives with Alzheimer’s disease, to make almost $1,700 worth of purchases from David Jones and Myer, buying cosmetics, and a watch worth $725 among other items.
The theft was flagged by the woman’s daughter who noticed suspicious transactions on her mother’s bank statement.
In a second incident, Ms Kaur also stole the bank card of a 95-year-old resident about the same time as the first offence and made more than $5,000 worth of purchases on various items including perfumes, beauty products, clothing, takeaway food and also added money into her Myki card to use on public transport.
The court heard Ms Kaur stole the 95-year-old woman’s bank card after looking through her drawers searching for a nightie. The woman became aware of the theft when she went to pay for a haircut.
All the purchases were delivered to the offender’s home address which was raided by police on March 13 where some of the purchased items were found.
Police officers told the court that in her initial interview with police, Ms Kaur strongly denied any wrongdoing but made some confessions after evidence was presented to her.
In court, Ms Kaur pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and 11 counts of obtaining property by deception. She was convicted and ordered to repay more than $7,000 stolen from her clients.
In August, The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission banned Ms Kaur from being involved in the provision of any type of aged care for 10 years.
Magistrate John Bentley said Ms Kaur’s actions were “as low as it gets”.
“One of the ladies had dementia […] It’s a gross breach of trust.”
Ms Kaur’s lawyer, Gurpal Singh, told the court she was in Australia on a student visa, had no previous convictions and presented a psychologist’s report in an attempt to sway the judge to refrain from recording a conviction against his client.
Mr Bentley said it was “much too serious” and said the only reason Ms Kaur was avoiding jail was because she could repay the money, otherwise, she would be “locked up”.
“She was buying items of luxury for herself. She knew exactly what she was doing,” he said.
Magistrate Bentley gave Ms Kaur a month to repay the stolen money and ordered her to complete 250 hours of community work as part of a 12-month Community Corrections Order (CCO).