THE theft of a dying woman's palliative care medicine by two of her carers was described in court as a callous act and a 'truly miserable' crime.

Kenneth Andrew Cast and Jodie Oakley were employed by Island-based care providers, Care at Home, to look after the needs of 91-year-old Beryl Carpenter.

Mrs Carpenter, of Vereker Drive, East Cowes, had come to trust Cast, a carer of more than six years, and Oakley, who had been in the profession about two years, the court was told.

Both had worked together as a team to provide Mrs Carpenter, who was given 12 weeks to live in June and who subsequently died on September 5, with personal home care.

On June 17, during one their care visits, Cast rifled through Mrs Carpenter's bag of palliative medicines, and placed a box of morphine sulphate into his jacket pocket, said Vivian Ducie, prosecuting, at the IW Magistrates' Court on Tuesday (29).

The victim's daughter, Sandra Phillips, made inquiries with Care at Home and Mountbatten about the missing drugs, but discovered the theft three days later on CCTV she had installed at Mrs Carpenter's home.

The stolen drugs ended up in the possession of Oakley, of Spring Walk, Newport.

Cast, of Albert Street, Newport, who admitted theft, claimed Oakley needed the drugs and he took them for her in an act of spontaneity, said Mr Ducie.

For dad-of-three Cast, 31, Oscar Vincent said his client had a previously unblemished record and was deeply embarrassed and ashamed of what he did and was sorry for the distress he had caused.

"He made full and frank admissions to the police. As a result, he has lost his employment and a promising career he had been building," said Mr Vincent.

The police visited Oakley's home to quiz her about the missing drugs.

She claimed she needed the drugs to end her own life, but never went through with it and put them in a cupboard, Mr Ducie added.

Oakley, 31, initially lied to the police, when interviewed, but, through a letter of apology to her employers, she admitted receiving stolen goods.

The letter said: "I did say to my co-worker I wanted the morphine, I wasn't aware he actually took it until later that evening, when it was handed to me.

"This all happened because of me. I wanted the morphine because I was planning to end my life.

"After my son had gone to live with his father permanently, I could see no other reason for carrying on. Part of me was missing.

"I know none of this excuses my behaviour and I do not expect you to forgive me. I am so sorry."

For Oakley, James Cameron said his client, with no previous convictions, was deeply sorry for her actions and had struggled with depression when the crime was committed.

Mr Ducie said: "This was a targeted theft of important medicine. This was a callous act.

"For a 91-year-old in the final stages of her life, supposed to be receiving care, her vulnerability has seen two people take advantage of her. It was a truly miserable crime."

Both were handed a six-month suspended jail sentence.

Cast was ordered to do 200 community hours and Oakley, due to her psychological state, 20 rehabilitation sessions and a four-week curfew, to remain indoors between 7pm and 7am.

Both will have to pay £85 costs and a £128 victim surcharge.