An NHS worker stole the bank card of a recently deceased coronavirus patient and used it to buy snacks from a hospital vending machine.
The healthcare assistant took the 83-year-old woman's card minutes after she died on 24 January at Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham.
The woman's death was recorded at 1:56pm and just 17 minutes later, Basharat used her card to buy crisps, sweets and fizzy drinks through contactless payment.
She made another purchase later that evening before twice trying to use the card again when she returned to work four days later.
By this time the card had been cancelled and Basharat was arrested on shift while it was still in her possession, police said.
Basharat, from Farm Road, Birmingham at first claimed she had found the card on the floor and got it “muddled up” with her own when paying.
But officers said the cards were different colours and she had ignored hospital protocol around patient lost property.
A spokesperson for University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Heartlands Hospital, said Basharat was immediately suspended.
After admitting her crimes, she was given two concurrent five-month jail terms, both suspended for 18 months.
Detective Constable Andrew Snowdon, the investigating officer from West Midlands Police, said: “This was an abhorrent breach of trust and distressing for the victim’s family.
“They were having to come to terms with the death of a loved one from Covid when they found the bank card missing – and then of course the realisation that the card was taken by someone who should have been caring for her.
DC Snowdon thanked the victim’s family for supporting the investigation and said he hoped they could move on from the “upsetting episode”.