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May 3, 2012

 Politicians Offer Praise in Wake of Senior Abuse Sisters' Convictions
By Sam Strangeways
1 May, 2012


 Health Minister Zane DeSilva and Opposition MP Louise Jackson have praised the officials who helped secure senior abuse convictions for Lorraine Smith and Audra-Ann Bean after they stole almost half a million dollars from their grandmother.
But Mrs Jackson, the One Bermuda Alliance’s spokeswoman on seniors, said it was a shame no such justice was achieved in previous alleged elder abuse cases involving victims such as “Auntie Em” and “Miss C”.
Sisters Smith and Bean, of Warwick, were found guilty by a Supreme Court jury on Thursday of the senior abuse of Lenice Tucker, 87, by financial exploitation.
They deceived their grandmother, of Southampton, into adding them to her bank accounts when she was grieving the death of her sister and then siphoned off her funds for their own use.
The convictions were the first under the Senior Abuse Register Act 2008 and the pair will be the first offenders in Bermuda to be placed on the Senior Abuse Register.

Mr DeSilva told The Royal Gazette: “It’s always a tragedy when a senior is taken advantage of or is abused, whether that abuse is physical, emotional or financial.
“I am glad that those responsible were brought before the courts and that justice has been done. Everyone involved in this case should be commended for coming forward and presenting the evidence required to obtain a conviction.
“If there is ever any concern that a senior is being abused, that concern should be reported to the National Office for Seniors and the Physically Challenged (NOSPC), as was done in this case.
“The legislation, which is designed to help protect seniors, is serving its intended purpose.”
Mrs Jackson said: “This was a very significant case. That law has been on the books for four years and though we all know of other notorious cases of senior abuse, this is the only conviction.”
She added: “Mrs Lenice Tucker’s case contrasts with the sad stories of Auntie Em, Miss C and others. Its rarity seems a stark suggestion to us that lawmakers need to revisit the Act to ensure it isn’t somehow easy for offenders to escape punishment for their acts.
“It is also a reminder that we must act quickly and decisively so that seniors do not suffer for years without help.”

The politician congratulated Bermuda Police Service, the Department of Public Prosecutions, the NOSPC and other agencies and individuals involved in getting justice for Ms Tucker.
“Unfortunately, we know there are other cases, perhaps many other cases,” she said. “We know there are people who are afraid to report abuse and there is no wonder about that, given the closeness of family ties in many cases.
“But I would like to reach out to all those who either may be involved in, or who know of senior abuse, whether physical, financial or emotional.
“Do the right thing, I beg of you, and report instances of senior abuse to the Vulnerable Persons Unit at the police. Please understand that the staff at that unit can be relied upon to maintain a proper discretion.”
Auntie Em’s alleged abuse by her adopted daughter at the family home in Devonshire, was revealed by this newspaper in September 2007 but no charges were ever brought. The senior died a year ago, aged 98.
Miss C, who was understood to have learning difficulties, was allegedly physically and sexually mistreated, as well as financially exploited, by two men who moved into her home. She died in January 2011, aged 78.
Prosecutors revealed in February that no charges would be brought in the case.
The NOSPC has been documenting reports of senior abuse since 1995 but this newspaper has been unable to obtain statistics for recent years, despite repeated requests.
l To report suspected senior abuse call police on 295-0011 or the NOSPC on 292-7802.

SOURCE:       The Royal Gazette Online
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