Care-home manager with cocaine habit stole more than £3,000 from 87-year-old resident

A care home manager who stole more than £3,000 from a vulnerable 87-year-old resident has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 7:00 am

Leeds Crown Court heard Gemma Richards had a cocaine habit and took the cash to feed her addiction.

Richards, 35, was the manager of Haven Lodge residential care home in Normanton, when she committed theft between December 2016 and July 2017.

Joe Culley, prosecuting, said the pensioner was vulnerable and needed help to manage her finances.

Leeds Crown Court.

Mr Culley said Richards, of Westbourne Mount, Pontefract, withdrew a total of £3,036 from the woman's bank account.

The offences came to light when the victim's bank statements were discovered in the office during an audit at the care home when Richards was off work.

The woman's bank card, which was missing from the office safe, has never been found.

Richards was identified on CCTV footage at a petrol station at a time which coincided with the bank card being used for a withdrawal.

Mr Cullen said during her police interview Richards tried to blame other care home staff for the theft.

Richards, who has no previous convictions, admitted theft.

James Holding, mitigating, said Richards had suffered mental health problems and had abused drugs.

Mr Holding said Richards is remorseful and has taken steps to address her drug abuse.

Mr Holding, who said Richards now works full time for a large supermarket chain, added: "She wasn't thinking about what she was stealing, she simply wanted to fund her habit."

Judge Mushtaq Khokar said: "What you did was despicable, disgraceful and I would say evil, to steal her money, £3,000, to fund your addiction to cocaine.

"You were trying to blame other people.

"There can be nothing worse for an honest employee to be accused or suspected of thieving from his employer."

Judge Khokar said Richards maintained her not guilty plea for three years.

He handed Richards a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for two years and ordered her to do 250 hours unpaid work.

Judge Khokar said he did not jail Richards immediately because of the length of time that has passed since the offence and because she has a young daughter.

Richards must also pay £600 compensation.