A cleaner who stole money from an eight-year-old boy before being caught wearing her employer’s stolen jewellery on Facebook has been jailed.
Maxine Ferran, 47, was jailed after she stole up to £7,000 worth of valuables, including Versace handbags, mobile phones, video games, and cash - including her employer’s young son’s savings from his bedroom.
She also stole “irreplaceable” and “totally unique” family heirlooms, such as a 2000-year-old coin her victim’s great-grandfather had carried throughout the First World War - which she returned on the day of her sentencing.
Ferran was caught after Cliff and Paris Bradley, whose home she had cleaned for almost two years, began to suspect she was responsible for the items going missing from their four-bedroom village home near Warwick.
Mr Bradley saw a photo on Ferran’s Facebook page of her wearing a missing pair of his wife’s earrings - so he contacted jewellers in the area with details of other missing items.
He discovered Ferran had been trying to sell a mounted Alexander the Great coin, dating back to around 200BC and which had been worn as a fob by his great-grandfather throughout the First World War.
Ferran, of Bartley Green, Birmingham, had been convicted of stealing from the Bradleys by Warwickshire magistrates.
She was jailed at Warwick Crown Court on Friday, October 6 for 18 months.
Ferran had previous dishonesty offences which dated back to 1991 and included an offence of going equipped for burglary.
The court heard previously that Mr Bradley contacted jewellers in the area with details of other missing items, including David Johnson at Rex Jewellers who was offered his great-grandfather’s coin and a pair of cufflinks also made from ancient coins.
He asked Ferran to return after he had had time to investigate their value and the police were informed, but she failed to return to the shop after spotting a police car parked outside.
When she was arrested, she denied being responsible for any thefts from the couple, which she maintained during her trial.
As well as the coins, which had massive sentimental value for Mr Bradley because of their link with his great-grandfather, Ferran had stolen other jewellery, including the earrings she was pictured wearing on Facebook.
When Ferran had first been due to be sentenced, she claimed she had nothing to do with taking the treasured heirlooms, and the case was adjourned.
And at the resumed hearing Ferran turned up with the coin and cufflinks, which were handed back to Mr Bradley.
Judge Sylvia de Bertodano said: “I’m very pleased about that. These things have an importance way, way beyond their financial value.
“You were convicted after a trial of stealing from your employers. Over the summer of last year, they started to notice things going missing, and they had their suspicions, and your employment was terminated.
“It became clear it was you who had taken them when Mr Bradley contacted local jewellers who had been given items by you which had clearly come from them.
“The value of the items you stole is £6,000 to 7,000 but that doesn’t really demonstrate the harm, because it is not about the money people have lost.
“They were visibly highly distressed over the missing items of sentimental value.
“You told me through your counsel you had nothing to do with those items, but when I adjourned for you to find them, you did.
“Their eight-year-old son had his own cash stolen from him. He is clearly very well aware of what has gone on. He says he treated you as a friend, and that trust has been breached.
“When people let others into their homes to do work for them, it places a significant degree of trust in them.
“When this happened again and again it is impossible to say there was not significant planning. You were using this employment to steal from this family.
“I do give you significant credit for bringing the items back and reduce the sentence from two years to 18 months. Had you pleaded guilty at an early opportunity, then of course a suspended sentence could have been a consideration.
“It cannot possibly be in these circumstances after a trial.
“I also order an indefinite restraining order that you should not contact the Bradley family directly or indirectly.”
Simon Hunka, defending, said: “There has been a significant degree of distress in having those items go missing, but a considerable relief to have them returned.
“It is terrible offending. I can’t say anything more about it than that.
“It’s an abuse of trust by an individual who has access to every nook and cranny in their home.”
He said Ferran had been married and had two children, but her husband had died five years ago, leaving her unable to pay the mortgage, and she and her son, then 15, had to move in with her police officer daughter.
She now has rented accommodation where she lives with her son, who was a bright student but quit his course and, now 20, suffers from agoraphobia and panic attacks and would suffer if she was jailed because he has trust issues with anyone other than her.
Judge de Bertodano asked what arrangements Ferran had made for her son, but Mr Hunka said that apart from telling her daughter, there was nothing else she could do.