A woman who preyed on vulnerable men in sheltered housing accommodation to steal money from them has been jailed for 15 months.
Mother-of-one Stephanie Rennie of Rowan Road, Inverness, appeared by video link at Inverness Sheriff Court today and admitted three charges of theft and two of threatening or abusive behaviour.
Sheriff Sara Matheson, who backdated the sentence to June 12, 2020, when Rennie was remanded in custody, described the offences as “disgusting and unacceptable”.
She said: “Any offence of theft is bad enough but from vulnerable people is more so.”
The court also heard that, while behind bars awaiting sentence, the 30-year-old became very ill with Covid.
The Sheriff imposed a two year non-harassment order to protect Rennie’s victims
Lawyer says Rennie stole to feed crack cocaine addiction
Defence solicitor Marc Dickson said: “It is clear that she has taken advantage of vulnerable people and she is genuinely remorseful and embarrassed.
“The background to this is she had a pernicious addiction to crack cocaine and alcohol and she would spend every waking moment to source funding for her addiction.
“It is no excuse but it explains how she behaved.”
Rennie conned way into home of ‘trusting’ man by saying she was cold
The court heard that Rennie would con her way into the property or gain a victim’s confidence by offering to help.
Her first victim was a 43-year-old man in St Mary’s Avenue, Inverness who she claimed to have befriended.
Fiscal depute Martina Eastwood said: “His support worker describes him as a trusting person who thinks everyone is nice.
“She attended at his address on March 19, 2020 and requested entry as she was cold. He made her a cup of tea.
“The following day, she returned and phoned for a taxi. She watched him enter his number at a cash machine and sent him back to the taxi.
“She withdrew £200 from his account.”
The court heard Rennie returned to his home on April 2, 2020, and tried to push past him but a support worker prevented entry, despite her protestations that she was “a friend”.
Callous crook stole from man in mobility scooter at ATM
Her second victim was a 60-year-old man living in Balnacraig Road.
On April 24, she visited him pretending to complete forms with him at the bogus request of the warden. She then left, taking his wallet, containing £300, his bus pass and bank card.
On June 10, 2020, she saw a 68-year-old man at a convenience store in Lochalsh Road, trying to withdraw money at the ATM while sitting in his mobility scooter.
She withdrew £120 and pretended to place it in his wallet. Ms Eastwood said it was only on his return home that he discovered she had taken the cash.
Ms Eastwood said that Rennie’s activities attracted “strong feelings by members of the public on social media which contained warnings about her behaviour”.