A TRUSTED carer stole money belonging to vulnerable adult residents to pay for drugs for a former partner and herself, a court was told.

Danielle Poulter helped herself to cash withdrawn using bank cards belonging to four adults with learning difficulties in her care at Viewfields, a home run by CIC Community Integrated Care, in Pelton, near Chester-le-Street.

Durham Crown Court was told she also made withdrawals with cards colleagues were allowed to use on the residents’ behalf, casting doubt over their activities.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said it led to one of the other carers being suspended and it was only five months later that she was re-instated.

Mr Dryden said due to the level of their learning difficulties the residents did not have the capacity to look after their own finances.

Poulter began working at the home in early 2017, but it was only towards the end of that year that she began to make her illicit withdrawals.

Mr Dryden said only four staff members had access to their own allocated cards and were given the respective PIN numbers to make withdrawals on behalf of the residents.

When the outgoings from the residents’ accounts began to be scrutinised, the blame fell on one of the other carers, who was suspended as withdrawals were made by Poulter using her allocated card.

But it was only months later when it was established some of the suspicious withdrawals were made when the originally accused woman was out of the country, that she was taken back on by CIC.

It was only when another card in the name of a female resident went missing in December 2018 and £300 was withdrawn with it, that Poulter was questioned.

She claimed it was “a mistake” and handed the money and the card back, but the entirety of her illegal activity started to come to light.

When interviewed she made limited admissions, telling police her boyfriend at the time had a drug habit and she stole the money to pay for his and her own drug use.

The 32-year-old defendant, of Edward Road, Birtley, admitted four counts of theft, of sums totalling £35,900.

Her counsel at a previous hearing, David Callan, told the court that she was supplying her boyfriend with money to pay for heroin.

Tom Mitchell, representing Poulter at the sentencing hearing, conceded she was aware she was facing a custodial sentence, given the seriousness of the offences.

Recorder Keir Monteith QC, who said it was a great breach of the trust, imposed a 28-month prison sentence.

Speaking after the hearing, Marc Brodie, managing director of the North-East at Community Integrated Care, said: “As soon as we identified the fraud, we took immediate action, suspending Ms Poulter and alerting the police and all other relevant authorities.

"Community Integrated Care has also fully reimbursed those affected by Ms Poulter’s crimes.

"We welcome this verdict and sentencing and hope this sends a clear message that the financial abuse of vulnerable people must never be tolerated and comes with serious consequences.”