Nurse steals from elderly patient to go on a shopping spree
A registered nurse from Brisbane pleaded guilty to stealing a visa debit card from an elderly patient's purse and using it to make hundreds of dollars worth of purchases, in what was described as an out-of-character "brain explosion" at the Pine Rivers Magistrates Court this week.
The court heard Michelle Lorna Pauline Peroumal, 44, had a passion for nursing, having pursued the career as a mature-aged student after time working as a ward and orderly.
Peroumal completed her bachelor's degree in 2014 and went on to both teach at a local university and work as an agency nurse at an aged care facility, where she ultimately began to care for an 87-year-old woman.
The court heard that during Peroumal's shift on July 26 she went into the elderly woman's handbag and took her bank card, leaving with it at the completion of her shift.
On the same day, at 2pm, she made the first of a total of nine purchases at the Officeworks in North Lakes, using Paypass.
Over the next three hours, Peroumal racked up $589.73 of spending on the card, using it at Bunnings North Lakes and at the TSG, BWS, Woolworths, Priceline and Liquorland at the Aspley Hypermarket.
Her final purchase was from the RESA Safety Store in Kedron, where she purchased clothing items.
Magistrate Leanne Scoines described the crime as opportunistic, risky and far from sophisticated, noting Peroumal must have known the likelihood of her being caught was high, given the prevalence of CCTV footage at the locations she used the card and the limited number of people with access to the elderly woman's belongings.
In her sentencing Ms Scoines noted how baffling it was to see a hard working woman who was clearly passionate about her job jeopardise it in such a way, particularly given her absolute lack of criminal history.
"I don't know where your mind was at the time, but it's almost like you had suspended your understanding of how life works," she said.
"The relationship between nurse and patient is based on trust, and you breached that trust.
"(The victim) couldn't have been more vulnerable. It's unacceptable to exploit anyone, but certainly in aged care."
Peroumal was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and ordered to pay $589.73 in restitution to the victim.
No conviction was recorded.
Peroumal lost her job in the wake of the incident and will be due to have her registration reviewed in May next year.
Originally published as Nurse steals from elderly patient to go on a shopping spree