Gran jailed over Kidsgrove care home theft
CARE home worker Sharon Walker has been jailed after stealing thousands of pounds from the funeral funds of two residents.
The 46-year-old abused her position at Acres Nook Nursing Home, in Kidsgrove, to help herself to £4,992.99.
The victims – a 33-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer and a 61-year-old multiple sclerosis victim – have since died.
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard Walker:
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Stole £2,500 from the funeral plan account she set up for the cerebral palsy sufferer;
Pinched £2,130 of the £4,371 she withdrew to pay for the MS sufferer's funeral.
She also used one resident's cash to buy him an iPod and camcorder – and then gave the items to her husband as gifts when they were unsuitable for the man.
Grandmother Walker, of Ashworth Street, Fenton, has been jailed for 16 months after admitting three fraud charges. She must pay the £4,992.99 back by July 29 – or face a further three months in jail.
Jailing Walker, Judge Paul Glenn told her: "The courts have a duty to protect those who can't help themselves. The residents were elderly patients and young adults with physical difficulties. They had to rely on staff for their care. You took advantage of a lax system.
"The particular vulnerability of your victims is a significant aggravating feature."
The court heard Walker started work at the home as a housekeeper in 2006. She started taking part in financial administration duties before July 2009 when she was formally employed as home administrator.
The care home had a system in place aimed at ensuring residents' money was spent properly.
But the system was open to potential abuse and Walker took advantage. Brian McKenna, mitigating, conceded the offences were 'mean'.
He said Walker was under 'intolerable' pressure at work as she had no experience of bookkeeping or accounting.
The 69-bed care home – which is now run by HC-One – was operated by Southern Cross at the time of the incident.
An HC-One spokesman said: "We can reassure residents, their families and our community that the home has been under a new operator for a year now, and we would never tolerate this behaviour."