Two women robbed elderly people of thousands of euros in cash and jewellery after duping them into believing they had been sent over by an agency to keep them company during the pandemic.

A magistrate on Wednesday described the actions as lacking “any trace of humanity” and sentenced one of the women, Jasmine Azzopardi, 43, to three years in prison.

Azzopardi’s accomplice, Nathalie Bonello, 44, had already pleaded guilty upon arraignment two months ago and had been sentenced to 30 months in jail.

Police Inspector Jonathan Ransley, prosecuting, told the court that Azzopardi and Bonello would knock on the doors of elderly people and tell them they were employed with agencies offering services.

One of the women would distract the victim while the other would roam the house collecting whatever she could take of the elderly person’s prized possessions. Azzopardi carried out one of the robberies alone. 

One of the women would distract the victim while the other would roam the house

Five elderly people were robbed in all, aged 77, 79, 81, 82 and 92.

The crimes took place in February, March and April last year in Birkirkara, Santa Venera and Msida.

Among the stolen items was a chequebook which the women used by forging the victim’s signature.

Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech heard Azzopardi change her plea to guilty and admitting to all the charges brought against her.

In handing down judgment, the court noted that she had a “colourful” criminal record and that she was no first-time offender. She even committed the crimes while on bail over another criminal case.

Azzopardi’s probation officer recommended that the woman be given an effective prison term because she had been given previous chances to reform but had failed to take these opportunities.

He said that, in addition to serving as a deterrent and helping her fully appreciate the value of the opportunities she had been given over the years, she needed a “controlled and safe environment” to work on her problems, particularly her drug addiction.

'Crimes committed when elderly longed for company'

Magistrate Frendo Dimech observed that whatever difficulties she was facing did not justify dragging other people into her own troubles, particularly when they were the most vulnerable and dependent people, who deserved protection more than other members of society.

“The crimes were committed during the pandemic when the elderly longed for company and help. Instead of a helping hand, they found someone who abused of their trust and who took their most valuable possessions,” the magistrate said.

“The court could not but consider that the offences committed by the accused were an indifferent act, devoid of any trace of humanity, designed to exploit the weakest and vulnerable in society, the elderly.”

As she sentenced Azzopardi to three years in jail, the magistrate placed her under a two-year treatment order intended for her to start and finish a drug rehabilitation programme.

The court also issued a protection order in favour of the victims.

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