$25k stolen from elderly clients

Jaide Alexander going into the Hamilton District Court for sentencing on dishonesty charges....
Jaide Alexander going into the Hamilton District Court for sentencing on dishonesty charges. Photo: Belinda Feek
A care support worker who stole more than $25,000 from two elderly clients, including one’s life savings, used the money to buy a new car, a stereo and pay a friend’s vet bill.

The main victim, whose card Jaide Elaine Alexander used to make 35 transactions in eight days, is unlikely to get all of her money back. Alexander has lost her job since the offending and can only afford to pay the victim $30 per week.

An agency contracted the 25-year-old to work in Waikato Hospital and a Hamilton rest home for two clients between November 2022 and January last year.

The first victim, who has a mental illness, was targeted by Alexander who took her to the shops in Grey St, Hamilton East, on November 8, 2022. The woman gave her card and pin number to Alexander to withdraw $300.

The victim asked Alexander to hold her handbag as they walked through a shop and Alexander took the opportunity to steal her bank card.

After Alexander finished work at 3pm that day, she went to an ATM and made three separate withdrawals worth $1510.

Ninety minutes later she went to 2Cheap Cars and used the victim’s card to make an $8000 deposit on a Nissan Juke.

Alexander returned the following morning to pay the remaining $6764 before going to Mad Soundz and buying a $1514.99 car stereo.

On November 10, she made two withdrawals totalling $1400 before receiving a call from a friend who said her cat had been hit by a car.

Alexander paid the $2500 vet bill to Pet Doctors to cover the cat’s surgery.

Alexander made a further 26 transactions between November 8 and 16 totalling $1380.62

The elderly woman lost $23,069.61.

The second victim, who had dementia, lost money after Alexander took his Visa debit card from his wallet while he slept and wrote the card details on a piece of paper on January 27, last year. She then used it to make multiple online purchases totalling $1200.

After being caught, she agreed to pay back her employer $1066.87. However, by the time she pleaded guilty, in September last year, only $60 had been paid.

Alexander first appeared for sentencing in December last year before Judge Kim Saunders but it was adjourned as she hadn’t made enough effort to try and sell the car.

At that stage, she had only been to Turners vehicle auctions, who had offered her $3000 to $4000.

“She has committed significant fraud against an elderly person, taken their life savings ... it’s only coming up to sentencing that she has now decided that the car has to be sold to pay reparation? She’s leaving it way too late,” the judge said.

Alexander reappeared before Judge Paul Mabey KC in the Hamilton District Court this week, with $4000 from the car sale to go towards reparation along with a further $400 she had saved.

She appeared for sentencing on two charges of using a document for pecuniary advantage, and two charges of taking a document for pecuniary advantage.

Counsel Makaila Quin said although Alexander had lost her job and was now on a benefit, she was keen to pay all the money back, despite only being able to afford $30 per week.

“As soon as she obtains employment ... she can pay the full amount.

“She is motivated to make wrong what she has done,” Quin said.

“She’s aware that what she did was wrong and is extremely remorseful.”

Quin said a sentence of community detention and supervision would provide both a punitive and rehabilitative sentence and enable her to work if she did find a job.

That would help address her mental health factors, impulse control, decision-making and provide her with financial support which was the driving force for her offending.

“She is willing to do whatever she can,” Quin said.

However, she added that her client suffered from a range of mental health illnesses which could make community work difficult for her.

The reparation owed to the second victim, who died in February 2023, was paid back.

However, Judge Mabey noted that if she was only going to pay $30 back a week, over five years that would only be$7500.

“If Miss Alexander gets into some money she can make arrangements to pay more. But if I was to make the full reparation amount, we’re getting into about 12 years and I don’t do that.

“We just don’t make never-ending reparation payments.

In accepting Quin’s submission, Judge Mabey took into account Alexander’s remorse, partial reparation payment, her mental health and that she was a first offender.

He sentenced her to the maximum community detention and supervision sentences of six months and 12 months’ respectively.

She was ordered to pay reparation of $7500.

 - By Belinda Feek

 - Open Justice multimedia journalist, Waikato