Sometimes justice is served in a courtroom; other times it requires action outside the court to redress the balance.

When Dorothy Winifred Pearson, 58, stole more than $7000 from her 80-year-old South Dunedin neighbour, Jan Shallard, she was hauled before the Dunedin District Court.

In August, it heard how Pearson had helped the dementia sufferer with her shopping but before long had obtained access to the pensioner's card and pin number before steadily emptying the account.

Because the defendant was unemployed, she was ordered to repay only $3500.

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And to Shallard's frustration, it would be at $30 a week.

''She steals from me overnight and they make her drip-feed it back to me,'' she said.

''She owns her own house and has a nice, flash car.''

Shallard's funds were so low she worried the power to her St Kilda unit would be cut off.

''Every time I switched the lights on, I held my breath,'' she said.

Then fate stepped in; in the form of a 20-year-old University of Otago student who had never met Shallard.

Emily Ewers opened a Givealittle page and within days the donations were pouring in.

People whose cats Shallard had looked after, people she had volunteered with at Toitu and Radio Rhema lent their support.

This week, the fund reached its goal of $3500.

And the strangers brought together by the sad case finally met yesterday for the first time.

Ewers and Shallard shared a hug.

''I'm just astounded one so young would care. I should know there are a lot of caring people out there, young and old, but I had just been so destroyed by this viciousness,'' Shallard said.

While happy to help, Ms Ewers had mixed feelings about how her actions had thrust her into the spotlight.

''I'm kind of an introvert,'' she told the Otago Daily Times.

''Welcome to the club,'' Shallard chipped in.

So what of Pearson?

She still lives across the road from her victim but will be on community detention until January.

''I've been told she wears a pretty little bracelet around her ankle now,'' Shallard said.

''I get great pleasure out of that.''