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16 September 2011, 11:30
A Hampshire ambulance worker has avoided a prison sentence for stealing £100 from an elderly woman who died a few days later.
Carl Brzakalik, 52, formerly of Kings Road, Hayling Island, appeared in court on Tuesday August 16 charged with theft.
A Hampshire Police spokesman said Brzakalik attended the home of 89-year-old Muriel Quintin in Emsworth after she suffered a fall on July 24 and needed hospital treatment.
He stole a wallet which had belonged to the pensioner's deceased husband, the spokesman said.
The theft was reported to police, who investigated the circumstances after the wallet with £100 in cash was found at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth later the same day.
Brzakalik was arrested on Tuesday August 2 on suspicion of theft, questioned by detectives, and charged a week later, on Tuesday August 9.
He admitted theft in court and received a 14-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.
He was ordered to complete 100 hours' unpaid work, pay £100 in compensation to the estate of his victim, and pay £85 in court costs.
Mrs Quintin died on August 4.
Speaking after the court case, her niece, Karen Mazlum, said: "These events have been terribly upsetting for the whole family while we were trying to cope with such a distressing situation already.
"We would have never expected someone to steal from a woman in the final days of her life.
"This theft could not have come at a worse time for Muriel, plus family and friends who loved her and cherish the memories of our lives together.
"Muriel's family wish to thank the police for securing the conviction and for handling the case sensitively."
Detective Constable Lee Parker, of Portsmouth CID, said: "This was a disgraceful betrayal of trust by someone in whom Mrs Quintin should have had complete confidence.
"Mr Brzakalik was at her home to provide a professional service during a potentially life-threatening situation.
"Instead, this man abused his responsible position to steal from a vulnerable patient in his care.
"Police treat allegations of this nature with the utmost seriousness and will work with the emergency services to uncover crimes committed at the expense of patients.
"Hampshire Constabulary would like to thank the South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) and staff at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham for their considerable co-operation and assistance in bringing this case to court swiftly.''