Woman, 33, jailed for 15 months for using cancer patient's credit card, leaving grandmother feeling 'violated and vulnerable' by 'predatory and brutal crime' as she fights for her life in hospital

A former medical assistant has been jailed for 15 months for using a cancer patient's credit card.

Mira Solmaz, from Hackney, east London, used the credit card of a cancer patient she was supposed to be caring for during the coronavirus lockdown when they were unable to see her family, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Solmaz, 33, was sentenced to a total of 15 months in prison on Friday after previously pleading guilty to five counts of fraud and three counts of possession of items used for fraud.

In April 2021, Hazel Longhurst, a cancer patient at St Bartholomew's Hospital, realized her card was being used despite her being in hospital at the time. Her daughter reported the crime to the police in April 2021.

The court heard the fraudulent purchases on the cards amounted to approximately £1,500.

Mira Solmaz, 33, used the credit card of a cancer patient she was supposed to be caring for during the coronavirus lockdown, when they were unable to see their families, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Ms Longhurst, 65, who worked in the NHS for more than 40 years, mainly as a district nurse, gave her own victim impact statement as Solmaz was sentenced.

She told Solmaz: “I was diagnosed with a rare disease, very severe aplastic anemia, which resulted in life-threatening complications.

“There are times when I lose consciousness, which is when a person is most vulnerable physically.

“In this case I was targeted by the defendants who thought I wouldn't survive.”

She told the court her daughter reported the “suspicious activity” and her family discovered the card had been stolen.

Hazel Longhurst, a cancer resident at St Bartholomew's Hospital, said Solmaz made her feel “violated and vulnerable”

Ms Longhurst added: “She (her daughter) is panicking and scared because so far neither she nor my family have been able to visit me due to coronavirus restrictions.”

“She was concerned that I would be a target for further crime and that I was so vulnerable that I should be looked after.”

Ms Longhurst said she was in “complete disbelief and shock” when she regained consciousness and understood what had happened.

She said: “I felt violated and vulnerable and became paranoid about any staff who came into my room. This had a big impact on my recovery.

Ms Longhurst, who has worked in palliative care for many years, told Solmaz: “I have worked in the NHS for over 40 years and know how devastating this is for the nurses and staff who look after me.

“The nurses are apologizing. They are all disbelieving and saddened by what my family and I have to face.

“This crime was so predatory and cruel it has definitely affected my trust in people.”

Solmaz was seen sitting in the dock wiping tears.

The court heard the “suspicious activity” was reported by Ms Longhurst's daughter Melanie, whose family discovered the card had been stolen

In December 2020, Todd Mallonee, a cancer inpatient at St Bartholomew's Hospital, noticed that his credit card and £60 in cash were missing, among other items. His wife contacted police in January 2021.

Mr. Mallonee passed away in April 2021 at the age of 48.

The court heard Solmaz purchased Apple AirPods, which she described in Whatsapp messages as a “New Year's gift” to herself, and dental treatment for her partner.

There were also New Look clothes, and she left a message saying that she had “done some therapy on myself.”

Ms Longhurst's card was used to pay for items including an AirPods box she bought with Mr Maloney's card, and more than £500 to pay for outstanding bailiff fines.

She also used patients' cards to pay for fares at Deliveroo, Sainsbury's and on the London transport network.

Images were also found on Solmaz's phone hidden behind an app that looked like a calculator, the court heard.

The incidents were linked to the cards of three other people, including a nurse whose credit card was stolen while she was working at London's Royal Infirmary.

Judge Gregory Perrins said Solmaz's actions were a “calculated decision” that breached the trust of cancer patients, including some who were terminally ill, and that she was supposed to be supporting them during their hospital stays. .

“You used the cards enthusiastically,” he told Solmaz, adding: “Your partner urged restraint but you were the one who persisted.”

Referring to Mr Maloney, the judge said: “It must have been extremely traumatic for him to have to deal with this crime and the police while he was dying from cancer.”

Solmaz also previously pleaded guilty to one count of participating in a money laundering arrangement, but that charge did not carry a separate penalty.

Prosecutor Vivek de Cruz said: “These crimes were simply appalling. The way they treated cancer patients at St Bartholomew's Hospital was cruel, cynical and callous.

Defense lawyer Charlotte O'Connor said things went “catastrophically wrong” after Solmaz got married – and the relationship didn't work out.

She described Solmaz as “a deeply damaged young woman who was grappling with the complex mental health issues she faced”.

Ms O'Connor added: “Perhaps the greatest punishment is that she will not be able to work again in an industry that she loves so much and has received so much attention over the years.”

Detective Constable Stacey Cottrell, of the City of London, said after the sentencing: “Meera Solmaz breached the trust and confidence of two vulnerable patients in her care and the families of the victims wanted their loved ones to be cared for.”

“I would like to express my condolences to Todd's family and friends. I am sad that he did not get to see Solmaz brought to justice.

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