A CARE home worker was jailed for using the bank cards of two dementia-suffering elderly residents for her own purposes.

Faye Banks, who worked at St Margaret’s Care Home, in Durham, stole the cards and used them to withdraw cash and to make a series of online transactions, some of which were declined after “suspicious activity” was reported on one of the accounts by the bank involved.

Durham Crown Court heard the carer was, however, able to withdraw and make purchases of £1,122 over a five-day period, in April, but her activities were soon brought to a halt after relatives of both unaware victims were alerted to the transactions by the respective banks.

Uzma Khan, prosecuting, said the family members reported concerns to the home, and checks of both residents’ rooms failed to locate the missing cards.

Inquiries were made at both banks and the defendant was identified on cctv making withdrawals using the cards at the relevant times.

She was arrested and interviewed in May, accepting she had stolen both cards and carried out the fraudulent transactions.

As a carer to both victims, she accepted having access to their rooms at the home.

She claimed she “found” both cards, one of them in the washing, which she said she planned to return, having used it to make several payments, most of which were unsuccessful, when they were declined by the bank.

Banks accepted having tried to buy alcohol and a mobile phone, which was delivered.

Miss Khan said Banks told police investigators she felt, “ashamed, sorry and upset”, for what she had done, at a time when she was struggling financially and, “at a low ebb”.

The 42-year-old defendant, of Powis Road, Thornhill, Sunderland, admitted two counts of theft and four of fraud by false representation.

The court heard she has two past convictions for five offences, including the last, 14 years ago, for taking property without consent.

Impact statements given to the court by family members of the two victims expressed their anger and shock that such crimes were committed in what should have been a “safe haven” for their elderly, mentally-incapacitated relatives.

Ian West, in mitigation, said, once accused, she made immediate admissions.

He told the court she was not in good health and suffering depression but feels great shame for what she did.

Judge Ray Singh said it was a great breach of trust and the only reason Banks stopped trying to use the cards was, “police intervention”.

Despite her claims that the crimes were to relieve her financial difficulties, he pointed out that among the attempted purchases were an expensive brand of vodka and a set of optics.

He imposed an eight-month prison sentence and said it could not be suspended due to the aggravating features in the case.

* In the light of the conviction, St Margaret’s issued a statement, saying: “The safety and wellbeing of our residents are our top priorities, so we always support taking action to protect older people in care. 

“When concerns were first raised about this situation, we immediately notified the police and the Local Authority Safeguarding Adults Team, working closely with all the relevant authorities to support a thorough investigation and work towards addressing the issue. 

“We also made sure the individual in question would not return to the home, and we will ensure the Disclosure and Barring Service are fully aware of their actions, which will prevent them from returning to work with vulnerable people. 

“We will always respond swiftly against any colleague that falls short of the values and standards we expect, and which residents rightfully deserve.”

The home received a 'good' rating from the Care Quality Commission in February 2020.



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