A GWENT carer admitted stealing almost £1,700 from the homes of five elderly people.

Janet Forrester, 40, of Stamford Court, Newport, appeared in Newport Crown Court yesterday having pleaded guilty to nine counts of theft.

The court heard how Forrester worked as a carer for Greenbanks Homecare since July 2009 and had access to clients’ details and combinations for entry into their homes.

Forrester admitted stealing £712 from the home of Margaret Harding between August and September 2009.

On one occasion, Ms Harding’s daughter took out £100 for her mother to pay bills but later noticed £35 was missing from her purse. Forrester returned on another date returning Ms Harding’s walking stick and was invited in. Ms Harding, who was partially sighted, had mobility problems and arthritis, later realised another £10 was missing from her handbag.

Christian Jowett, prosecuting, said Ms Harding believed Forrester took the money because it always went missing when she was present.

Forrester also stole £425 from Frank Maras who had a pacemaker and suffered kidney problems. The cash was taken from a drawer and metal box in his house.

Forrester was suspended from Greenbanks and later started work for Crystal Cleaning Solutions and went on to steal £315 from 82-year-old Joyce Gardner, who had terminal cancer, in September 2009.

Ms Gardener's niece gave her £300 in cash to add to the £40 already in her purse but £315 of this was missing after Forrester had been to Ms Gardner's home.

On September 29, 2009, Forrester was working at a sheltered housing complex where she met Olive Thomas who was feeling unwell.

Mr Jowett said Forrester went to their home in what appeared to Mrs Thomas’ husband to be a nurse’s uniform.

He asked her to take a look at his wife and gave her £25 to get her some food supplements and £100 for cigarettes which they never received.

Forrester returned the following day and the couple realised £50 had gone missing.

The court heard Forrester also stole £26 and a £14 British Home Stores voucher from the home of 87-year-old Enid Taylor on October 1, 2009. The purse was found in a police car - dropped by Forrester when she was arrested.

Tracy Lloyd-Nesling said Forrester had been a victim of domestic violence and was expected to fund her former husband’s drinking and gambling habits.

She said Forrester is ashamed of what she did and understands the effect the offences had on the victims and those close to them.

Sentencing was adjourned until May 4.

Greenbanks Homecare and Crystal Cleaning Solutions declined to comment.

EDITORIAL COMMENT: 'Stop her doing it again'

THE family of one of Forrester’s victims said she should never be allowed to work with elderly people again.

Frank Maras, who died in September last year aged 84, was living at The Beeches in Old Cwmbran and had carers seven days a week.

He was registered blind and was suffering from congestive cardiac disease, acute kidney failure, type two diabetes and had a pacemaker.

His daughter Michele Griffiths, of Greenmeadow, said her father who was a former special policeman and had served in the Royal Navy, was thorough and knew exactly how much money he had.

She said what upset him the most was that he would have given Forrester the money if she had asked.

Mrs Griffiths, 53, said: “He put faith in the people that looked after him. They were in a position of trust. She’s preyed on old and vulnerable people and that hurts me.

“I want this chapter closed and to stop her doing it to someone else. She should never be able to look after anyone in that position ever again."