A SALTCOATS woman who posed as a carer while high on Xanax and duped a disabled Stevenston pensioner in to letting her in to his home has been spared punishment - so she can finally get clean.

Deborah Scanlon, pictured right, was high on the drug - which has been implicated in a number of deaths in Scotland and the passing of celebrities Whitney Houston and Heath Ledger - when she blagged her way in to the man’s home.

Scanlon, 36, knocked on the door of the 78-year-old, whom we have chosen not to name, one evening last month and said: “I’m your carer, do you not recognise me?”

The pensioner, who is visited by North Ayrshire Council carers several times a day and suffers from memory problems became confused and, due to his health problems, believed Scanlon was his carer.

He let Scanlon, of the hostel in Green Street, Saltcoats, in to his home in Afton Road, Stevenston, where she planned to rob him.

But before she could fleece the pensioner one of his real carers arrived at his home and chased Scanlon off - after her bid to convince the carer she was his friend failed.

The details emerged last month when Scanlon appeared in the dock at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court to admit her guilt over the ruse.

She pleaded guilty to a single charge of breaking Section 57(1) of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 by being found in the man’s home without the legal right to be there, “so that, in all the circumstances, it may be reasonable inferred that [she] intended to commit theft.”

Procurator Fiscal Depute Rachel McKenzie said Scanlon knocked on the door of the man’s home at around 7pm on February 7 this year.

The prosecutor said he receives visits from North Ayrshire Council carers several times a day, adding: “The witness became confused and allowed her to enter his home.

“At 7.15pm a carer attended to provide care as per the procedures in place at that time and noted the accused [Scanlon] to be seated within the living room area.

“She stated she was a friend of [the man] but couldn’t provide any details about him when questioned and, as a result, was asked to leave.

“The accused then attempted to enter a bedroom within the locus and was again asked to leave.”

Scanlon made off, the matter was reported to police and she was traced later, before being arrested. Defence solicitor David McPherson, of law firm Neil F McPherson solicitors, said Scanlon could not remember what had happened as she was under the influence of Xanax at the time.

The lawyer explained: “She has no recollection of entering this house after taking, as she tells me, Xanax tablets, which, I think, are similar to Valium.

“She has struggled through most of her adult life with addiction issues - not just with Valium, but also with heroin.”

After hearing that Scanlon’s criminal record is due to her drug addiction and that she is trying to get clean and hopes to go to rehab in Aberdeen, Sheriff Iona McDonald adjourned the case until Tuesday for background reports to be prepared.

She also called for Scanlon to be assessed over her suitability for a Drug Treatment and Testing Order.

And, when Scanlon returned to the dock to learn her fate, Mr McPherson successfully argued she should be given a chance to get clean so she can finally stop offending to fund her habit, which has seen her “doing a life sentence in instalments.”

Sheriff McDonald said at an earlier hearing that the incident “smacks of pre-planning - saying you’re his carer and, ‘don’t you remember me?’” - but spared her prison and sentenced her in a way that saw her go unpunished.

As she placed Scanlon on a twoyear Community Payback Order which will see her supervised by social workers and attend rehab if she secures a place, Sheriff McDonald said: “Since 1998 you’ve been in a revolving door, in and out of jail constantly, and no doubt that is to do with your diffculties due to your drug habit.

“I’m going to give you a chance.I hope that will assist you and stop you offending and stop you serving a life sentence by instalments.

“If you breach the Order, I will jail you.”