'Utterly wicked' carer who pilfered £50,000 from Northamptonshire man as he grieved his wife and son spared jail

Bernadette Quirke stole more than 50,000 from her employer as he grieved for his wife and son.
Bernadette Quirke stole more than 50,000 from her employer as he grieved for his wife and son.

A carer who used the bank card of a grieving Northamptonshire widower to 'feather her nest' to the tune of £50,000 has been spared jail.

Bernadette Yvonne Quirke, of Windsor Road, Rushden, was a trusted carer who helped a Northamptonshire man and his family during a year of ill health between May 2015 and May 2016.

In this time, the wife of the family passed away and was followed by the tragic death of the couple's son shortly after.

Quirke should have been the person to have the most insight into how these tragedies devastated her elderly employer.

But instead, the 42-year-old began a spending spree using the man's bank cards and frittered away £50,000 of the wife's pension money on luxuries like nail treatments and drinks.

At her sentencing yesterday (Nov 6), Northampton Crown Court heard how this spending reached an insulting crescendo when Quirke bought a round of drinks for dozens of people at the wife's funeral - and paid for it using the grieving husband's bank card.

The persistent thievery was only discovered when her employer realised he was unable to fully pay funeral costs.

Members of the family have since been forced to file for bankruptcy. The financial devastation of Quirke's crimes were read out in court as part of a victim impact statement.

The statement from a member of the family read: "Her behaviour has made me feel terrible. I wouldn't wish it own my own worst enemy.

"She has left me in financial ruin."

Quirke pleaded guilty to theft in 2016. In her defence at court yesterday, she said: "If I could pay it back I would."

But in sentencing, His Honour Judge Michael Fowler ruled to spare Quirke from jail.

He told the 42-year-old: "You just pilfered as you wished - spending on trivia and relative luxuries.

"It was wholly despicable and cruel... A wicked, wicked offence... you are thoroughly dishonest and I wouldn't be surprised if there was a heavy dose of fantasy in the life you lead.

"I recognise, sadly, that [the family] would want to see you punished in a way that will hurt you. But having regard to the guidelines and law, it seems to me that the passage of time and the consequences of [a sentence in prison time] on your sons must be taken into account."

Quirke was spared jail and instead handed a 12-month sentence suspended for two years. She will also be placed under a curfew between 7am and 7pm for three months.