By Hannah Ewan
A COMMUNITY nurse who conned a couple out of funeral money was today struck off.
Mary Abdessadek was supposed to be caring for 74-year-old Julia Howat at a sheltered housing complex in Aberdeen.
But instead she defrauded her patient’s husband Alexander, 57, out of £1,162, claiming it was for a funeral plan.
A conduct and competence committee of the Nursing and Midwifery Council today deemed the 48-year-old unfit to practice and struck her off the nursing register.
The committee heard that the nurse had even tried to discredit her victim and had shown no remorse for her crime.
Abdessadek instructed Mr Howat to take the money from his account and give it to her, the committee heard.
She then gave him a hand-written receipt that claimed it had been paid into a funeral plan.
But instead she kept the money for herself.
Abdessadek was found guilty of fraud before Aberdeen Sheriff Court in September 2009, where she admitted the offence.
She was fined £300 and ordered to pay back the £1,162. She was suspended from working for NHS Grampian, and resigned in 2008.
At today’s hearing Linda Shaw, who was Abdessadek’s line manager at the time, and interviewed her when allegations of fraud emerged, gave evidence.
She said Abdessadek did not seem “at all fazed, shocked or surprised” when asked outright if she had stolen the money.
“She seemed to take it in her stride, as if ‘of course I didn’t take this money, I did this as a favour’,” Mrs Shaw said.
She also said Abdessadek had told her Mr Howat had accused care workers and family of stealing from him in the past.
Tom Hoskins, the committee’s case presenter, said: “The requirements of honesty are central to the nursing code, and indeed are central to the nursing profession.
“You must uphold the reputation of the profession. I would submit that these allegations are very serious.”
The committees lay chair, Michael Moran, said: “The panel notes that there has been no suggestion of contrition, and no suggestion of apology.
“The registrant has shown no appreciation of the effect her actions had on her patients.
“In fact, the registrant sought to lay the blame at the door of her victim, by attempting to discredit him.”
Mr Moran said nurses need a degree of autonomy, and that trustworthiness was an essential attribute.
At the time of her conviction Mr Howat said the crime had affected his wife’s health. “We got the shock of our lives when we found out what had happened,” he said.