A Suffolk care home worker who stole treasured wedding and engagement rings from vulnerable elderly residents has been jailed for two years.

Maria Dadu, 42, took jewellery of "enormous sentimental value" from three victims across two care homes in Barham and Baylham, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Dadu, who was an agency care worker, stole the rings between May 1 and May 23, 2019, Lynne Shirley, prosecuting, told the court.

The three victims have all since died, the court heard.

During a visit to Barham Care Centre on May 16, 2019, the son of the first victim, who was aged in her 70s at the time and had Alzheimer's, discovered his mother's wedding ring was missing, Ms Shirley said.

In a victim personal statement read in court by Ms Shirley, the son said the actions of Dadu made a "confused old lady terrified".

The daughter of the second victim, who was aged in her 80s and also a resident at Barham Care Centre, discovered that her mother's gold wedding band was missing during a visit.

The terminally ill victim got upset and cried when she found out her ring was missing, the court heard.

In a victim personal statement, the daughter said the theft was "deeply upsetting" and added to the family's grief during her mother's last months.

The third victim was a 99-year-old man, who was living at Baylham Care Centre in May 2019.

The victim, who was living with dementia and Alzheimer's, told his son that his treasured engagement ring had been removed by care staff while they were cleaning him.

Speaking in a victim personal statement read to the court, the son said he felt "a deep sense of betrayal of trust" and added that the theft had caused "another layer of hurt".

Following a search of Dadu's home, a box of jewellery was discovered under a mattress, the court heard.

The box contained five rings, a bracelet, a pair of earrings and a neck chain, Ms Shirley said.

Dadu, of Harewood Terrace, Haverhill, was arrested and pleaded guilty to three counts of theft in November 2020.

Shade Abiodun, mitigating, said her client was of previous good character and had not offended since May 2019.

She added that Dadu, who was aided by a Romanian interpreter, is a mother-of-one who no longer works in the care industry.

Jailing Dadu for two years on Thursday, Judge David Pugh said: "It is clear from the victim personal statements that the theft of these items, which had enormous sentimental value, had a devastating impact upon these very vulnerable victims. People who you were employed to care for.

"Instead you took advantage of their vulnerability in order to benefit yourself."