An Angus man swapped an 80-year-old’s savings box with a replica in a “shameful and disgusting” theft, a court heard.
James Phoenix was left to care for a family friend and replaced a locked box containing £600 for another piece from a local discount store.
The 27-year-old appeared at Forfar Sheriff Court, which heard he was trusted to make lunch and dinner for the Brechin man by his carer.
But when the woman went to leave the “physically frail” man’s benefits in his box several days later, she found her keys no longer fit the lock.
Fiscal depute Jill Drummond said: “The complainer is elderly and physically frail.
“(His carer) attends the witness several times per day…and she also has responsibility for his finances.
“His benefits are paid into her bank account and after doing the shopping she withdraws the money left over and keeps it in a cash box under his chair.
“She keeps both keys for the cash box.”
On June 11 Phoenix, who was well known to the pensioner and his carer, offered to make the lunch to allow the carer to go home early.
She later gave him the keys to the man’s house so that he could go back and make dinner.
The court heard Phoenix purchased a cash box from Nickel & Dime in Swan Street, returned, made the meal and took the house keys back.
The carer returned at 9.15am on June 12 and noticed the cash box had moved slightly “but did not think much about it.”
Ms Drummond added: “Two days later, she attempted to open the cash box to deposit money but her keys did not fit.”
Phoenix was identified from photos by a member of staff at Nickel and Dime, and police searched his house in Brechin’s Caledonian Road on June 25.
Defence agent Michael Boyd said alcohol had played a large part in his client’s offending.
“He describes his actions as shameful and disgusting,” he said.
“There’s clearly been an attempt to cover his tracks but he’s not tried to hide that.”
Sheriff Pino Di Emidio imposed a community payback order as an alternative to custody, with supervision requirements for 18 months and 160 hours of unpaid work.
He was told to pay the gentleman £300 in compensation.
Phoenix also admitted throwing a brick through a former partner’s window in Montrose Street, Brechin on April 20 this year, and will undertake another 60 hours of unpaid work.