Patricia Margaret Barry at the Casino Courthouse.
Patricia Margaret Barry at the Casino Courthouse. Brenden Allen

Carer escapes prison after stealing client's money

NINETY-TWO-YEAR-OLD Casino woman Doreen Candish had plenty of cash to take care of her needs, but after her death in January last year family members were appalled to find there was no money left to bury her.

More than $108,000 disappeared from Mrs Candish's bank account over a three-month period from January, 2005.

The culprit was sentenced in Casino Local Court yesterday to 300 hours of community work.

Patricia Margaret Barry, 69, of Casino, pleaded guilty to fraud.

Her defence solicitor told the court Barry had a hard life, growing up in a family affected by alcohol and violence.

She had left school at a young age doing domestic work and helping raise her siblings and, in her defence, her solicitor said she used the money to help her sister whose house had burnt down, and she intended to repay it.

Police facts tendered to the court said that Barry was introduced to Mrs Candish in 1998 by a home care worker.

Barry helped care for Mrs Candish, eventually becoming a trusted friend handling her personal affairs, assets and banking.

In October, 2004, Barry was given power of attorney and was instructed by solicitors in Casino on her responsibility to keep accurate records of all transactions.

Mrs Candish's failing health forced her into the Cedars Nursing Home in Casino in January, 2005.

Her home and its contents of antique furniture, jewellery, paintings and a lifetime's worth of personal items was sold for $141,120.94 and deposited into her bank account.

Within days Barry began making withdrawals from the account in varying amounts from $500 to $5000.

A statement of assets completed by Barry for the bank described Mrs Candish's assets as being worth $130,000, a shortfall of over $11,000.

After staff at the bank became suspicious Barry was stopped from making further withdrawals.

But the full extent of the situation was only discovered after Mrs Candish died and relatives discovered there was no money to bury her.

A distant cousin, Jenny Flanagan, of Lismore, said she was disappointed with Barry's sentence.

"I was amazed, but at the same time I would hate to see an old lady go to jail," she said.

"Doreen's money was to go to the NSW Cancer Council. It was in her will.

"They are the ones missing out and I don't think there is anyone who has not been touched by cancer somehow.

"I just want people to know that this is happening to old people and an example has to be set."

Mrs Flanagan said she had fond memories of Mrs Candish.

"She was a very distinguished lady, always dressed to the nines," she said.

"She was very upright, tall and thin, and had beautiful clothes and jewellery.

"As a child I remember my family going to her house for Sunday dinner and she would put all the beautiful crockery and cutlery on the table and we would have a baked dinner.

"Right up until the end she was sharp, remembering all of us.

"It was so sad to have to bury her as a pauper."

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