A care home worker was jailed for 16 months after she stole almost £5,000 from terminally-ill patients’ funeral funds.
Sharon Walker, 46, used the cash which she pinched from a cerebral palsy sufferer and a man dying of multiple sclerosis to buy a camcorder and an iPod for her husband.
The grasping gran trousered a total of £4,992.99 from the two patients being cared for at Acres Nook Nursing Home in Kidsgrove, Staffs., where she worked as an administrator.
The victims had set aside the money to pay for their funeral costs and was intended to be passed onto their relatives when they died.
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard Walker stole £2,500 from a funeral plan account she set up for a 33-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer, and a further £2,310 from a 61-year-old suffering from multiple scleroisis.
Walker’s crimes came to light when the patients died and their relatives tried to access the funeral plan money and discovered the accounts were both empty.
She pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud and was jailed for 16 months last Friday.
Sentencing Walker, Judge Paul Glenn blasted her for preying on “vulnerable” victims.
He 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, from Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, rose from her position as a housekeeper in 2006 to become chief administrator of the home in July 2009.
She exploited a loophole in the system designed to safeguard residents’ cash and siphoned off funds for herself.
Prosecutor Howard Searle said: “The system was subject of potential abuse and she abused the system.”
Judge Glenn ordered Walker to repay £4,992.99 by July 29 – or face a further three months in jail.
Brian McKenna, defending, admitted the offences were “mean” but said his client 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 scandal-hit Southern Cross at the time of the incident.
A 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.”
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