A THIEVING nurse who stole credit cards from an elderly patient before using them on a three-month gambling spree after her victim died has been branded “despicable” by a judge.
Rubilita Coggin was jailed for 15 months yesterday for pocketing two debit cards belonging to Connie Jones after the OAP was admitted to the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
Mrs Jones never recovered from her illness and died two weeks later in April last year.
But shameful Coggin, 48, used Mrs Jones’s cards dozens of times to gamble away £4,700 of her money on an internet gaming website.
Grieving husband Peter Jones did not discover the theft until he opened bank statements revealing the numerous payments to the online casino.
In a statement read out in court he said: “I cannot believe that someone would steal my wife’s debit cards when at the time she was a defenceless old lady in an isolation room in hospital.
“I received statements informing me thousands had been taken from two accounts.
“I simply couldn’t cope with it.”
A judge said Coggin’s dishonesty had “cast a shadow” on the whole nursing profession.
Judge Peter Bowers said: “These were particularly mean and despicable offences.
“You preyed upon an elderly lady when she was in hospital during her final illness.
“As a nurse you are trusted with access to the most intimate and personal aspects of a person’s life, and that trust places great responsibility upon you and others to act at all times in a manner which is beyond reproach and criticism – and that trust you grossly abused.”
In May 2013, around a month after Mrs Jones, of Blackhall, died, Mr Jones received a statement from a Lloyds bank account showing 44 transactions to the gambling site.
Mr Jones reported the matter to Peterlee police and after an investigation was carried out Coggin, of Elmwood Road, Hartlepool, was arrested in September.
At first she claimed she found the card along with a Laura Ashley credit card in the street.
But she later admitted she took them from Mrs Jones’s purse and admitted two counts of theft as well as two charges of fraud by false representation.
Ian Mullarkey, mitigating, said: “Miss Coggin is utterly ashamed of what she’s done.
“She wishes to express her deep remorse for having behaved in this way.
“She worked for over two decades as a nurse without any complaint whatsoever.”
Mr Mullarkey said Coggin, who also worked as a nurse during the first Gulf War in Iraq, became hooked on internet gambling after her husband returned to Saudi Arabia.
He said: “As a consequence of her own serious wrongdoing she has lost everything, her good character, her career and contact with her family.”
Judge Bowers said he was unable to suspend the sentence given the high level of trust she breached.
He added: “The sad thing is it not only brings shame upon you but also casts a shadow over the nursing profession, who do a hugely commendable job day after day and it undermines public confidence in their trust with the profession as a whole.”