The healthcare worker took an elderly aged care resident’s debit card and proceeded to go on a spending spree, using it a total of nine times.
The nurse, Michele Lorna Pauline Peroumal, 46, has now been officially reprimanded for professional misconduct.
The Courier Mail reports that Peroumal stole the 87-year-old’s Visa Debit card while working at a Queensland aged care home in 2020.
She made her way into the resident’s room, removed the wallet from the patient’s handbag, took out the debit card and then left with it at the conclusion of her shift, the tribunal was told.
The court heard that on that very same day, she made her way to Officeworks in North Lakes, and using PayPass, made the first of nine purchases.
It was over the proceeding three hours that Peroumal amassed a spending total of $589.73 on the card, across numerous businesses, including Bunnings, TSG, BWS, Woolworths, Priceline and Liquorland at the Aspley Hypermarket.
The ninth purchase occurred at the RSEA Safety Store in Kedron, where Peroumal decided to buy some clothing, the court heard.
The nurse pleaded guilty in 2020 to stealing and nine counts of fraud at the QLD Pine River Magistrates Court.
The magistrate ordered her to undertake 40 hours of community service and to return the $589.73 in restitution, however, did not receive a record of conviction.
Judicial member John Robertson of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal noted that the fraud and theft occurring in this incident weighed heavily as determined behaviour.
The incident was comprised of a significant breach of trust, not only towards the elderly and vulnerable victim, but towards the home at large and her direct employer.
Peroumal finished her bachelor’s degree in 2014, and continued to excel professionally, teaching at a local university and being employed as an agency nurse at an aged care home in her area.
A barrister conveyed to the tribunal that the nurse had been under considerable stress and was anxious at the time of the offences. She had expressed she did not recall removing the resident’s property, yet she did acknowledge she had.
However, judicial member Robertson noted that Peroumal’s purposed and determined actions did not substantiate a person who was going about their motions in an unconscious or automatic state.
Robertson commented that this reasoning was not what her lawyer had conveyed to a magistrate, nor had Peroumal asserted having no memory of taking the card in a letter of apology to the senior victim.
Peroumal was not employed as a nurse after the loss of her position in 2020, and until February 2021, she had been under immediate registration action.
Specifically, she has not been permitted to practise without restriction, and has not been employed as a registered nurse since.
After being charged, Peroumal had been employed casually at the University of Queensland, assisting to train nursing and medical students, however, she is currently unemployed.
The tribunal did note that they had seen clear remorse expressed from Peroumal, and on March 10 it ordered the reprimand, coupled with education conditions, on her registration record.