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Woman who stole money from vulnerable men in sheltered housing accommodation is jailed at Inverness Sheriff Court

By Ali Morrison

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Stephanie Rennie.
Stephanie Rennie.

Stephanie Rennie's actions were described as "disgusting" as she was jailed for 15 months.

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 backdated the sentence to June 12, 2020, when Rennie was remanded in custody in relation to the offences.

"Any offence of theft is bad enough but from vulnerable people is more so," she said, describing the crimes as "disgusting and unacceptable."

Sheriff Matheson also imposed a two-year non-harassment order to protect 30-year-old Rennie's victims.

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."

He told the court that his client had spent ten-and-a-half months on remand and it had not been an easy time.

"She contracted a particular nasty Covid infection while in prison," he said.

The court heard Rennie would con her way into properties 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 PIN at a cash machine and sent him back to the taxi. She withdrew £200 from his account."

The court heard she 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."

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 supposedly on his behalf, but only pretended to place it in his wallet. 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 who had shared warnings about her behaviour.

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