Care worker stole thousands from elderly woman

Ann Smale

Ann Smale

A care worker who stole more than £6,000 from an elderly woman with learning difficulties has been jailed for 10 months.

Ann Smale, 43, plundered the 80-year-old's bank account while providing daily home care for the pensioner .

Smale, from Robin Hood’s Bay, began her wicked fraud spree after being handed responsibility for the victim’s finances, York Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Rob Galley said Smale set up online banking with the victim's details, ostensibly to buy the pensioner everyday essentials.

But she raided the account for her own ends, withdrawing £6,400 from cash machines over an 18-month period between April 2014 and November last year.

Smale - whose husband is a chartered accountant and clergyman - blew some of the money on items such as children’s clothes and a baby rocker, which she bought online from upmarket retail chain John Lewis.

She also took out a subscription with the independent publisher DJ Murphy, which owns horse-riding and children’s magazines.

Mr Galley said the care company noticed 16 unauthorised cash withdrawals from the victim’s account and reported the matter to police.

Smale also stole eight supermarket points vouchers from an elderly man under her care and used them at Morrison’s on three separate occasions.

The disgraced former care worker, of Laburnum Avenue, was arrested in November 2015 and immediately owned up the offences.

She appeared for sentence on Monday after admitting two counts of theft and one of fraud.

Mr Galley said Smale had worked in the care industry for 15 years and was employed as a support worker for elderly people with learning difficulties

He added that Smale - who remained impassive throughout the hearing - had a previous conviction for theft and attempted fraud in 1999, when she tried to cash a forged cheque belong to an elderly person.

Defence barrister Vincent Blake-Barnard said Smale had “no explanation at all” for her latest offences and had no financial worries.

He said her husband, whom she married two years ago, had now set her up as a self-employed caterer.

“He is a part-time chartered accountant but also a man of the cloth, and (his wife’s offending) has come as a shock to him,” added Mr Blake-Barnard.

“She was very good at her job and (hitherto) held in very high esteem. It’s an absolute puzzle as to why this happened.”

Mr Recorder Mark McKone told Smale: “The strange feature of this (case) is that the money was not needed by you and it seems you have not spent the money on high living, but the public expects that carers who steal from the elderly are sent to prison.”

Mr McKone postponed financial-compensation proceedings which will determine how much Smale has to pay back to the victim.