Caregiver steals from 98-year-old, goes free

A caregiver in western Sweden, caught stealing from her elderly charge, has been freed after a court ruled that police planting money in the old woman’s wallet was entrapment.

“The purse was lying in the same position it always did and if it had been the woman’s own money, they would have been stolen just the same,” said Maigreth Mellgren of the police, to local paper Göteborgsposten (GP).

In December last year a woman reported that she thought notes were being pilfered out of her 98-year-old mother’s purse. Suspicions were aimed at a caregiver, who regularly visited the old woman’s home to help her with everyday chores.

Police took the controversial decision to plant 600 kronor ($87), in one hundred kronor notes, in the nonagenarian’s wallet.

When the caregiver next visited, a police patrol was waiting further down the road, according to GP.

The suspicions turned out to be true, five of the six notes were found on the caregiver’s person.

However, the district court in Uddevalla ruled that police had no right to act as they did, and that the woman would never have stolen the money, should she have known it belonged to the police.

She could therefore not be charged with intentional theft from the police, which was the charge that the prosecutor had demanded.

Furthermore, the district court wrote in their ruling that a fair trial against the woman must be seen as undermined due to the police’s actions.

The court wrote that the charged maid probably did take money from the old lady without leave. Her own explanation; that the old lady had asked her to purchase “orange cordial, fruit and bread” with the 500 kronor, the court dismissed as “not very convincing”.

But despite this, the woman was freed from all charges.

“It is a very fine line between evidence and entrapment and perhaps we must be even more careful now, “ Mellgren told GP.

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