Rawdon woman stole nearly £10,000 from disabled pensioner

First published in Local news

A disabled pensioner’s support worker stole almost £10,000 from her to pay the rent after she got into spiralling debt, a court heard.

In what a judge branded “a crushing breach of trust”, Samantha Davies made 45 unauthorised cash withdrawals from Helen Baker’s Post Office account while working for St John of God Hospitaller Services in Bradford.

Davies, 36, of Whitelands, Rawdon, acted out of desperation when her debts became crippling, Bradford Crown Court was told on Monday.

She pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position between October 2009 and August 2011.

Prosecutor Beverley Dawes said Davies took a total of £9,730 from Miss Baker’s account.

Miss Baker, 66, was physically disabled and had learning difficulties, the court heard.

She had been living in supported accommodation provided by the St John of God Hospitaller Services since 2002.

She needed help to take her medication and to manage her finances, which included a weekly pension and monthly disability allowance.

On August 16 last year, other support workers became suspicious after noticing that Miss Baker’s account showed an unusual level of activity with a number of big cash withdrawals.

Davies was suspended from her job and confessed what she had done to a disciplinary hearing on August 30. She said she was struggling with £20,000 of debt.

She was arrested on October 15 and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

Her barrister, Jeremy Hill-Baker, said she had written to Miss Baker to apologise.

She had been caring for her since 2005 and fell prey to temptation when her debts became unmanageable. She used the money to pay her rent.

“In every other respect, she has been an exemplary worker. She did not feel strong enough to ask her family for help,” Mr Hill-Baker said.

The mother of a son, Davies was due to marry in September. “She is unable to really put into words how remorseful and upset she is,” Mr Hill-Baker told the court.

Davies had borrowed £3,000 from a relative to begin paying back Miss Baker.

Judge Colin Burn sentenced Davies to ten months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 100 hours unpaid work and a probation service order. He made a £6,000 compensation order over two years.

He told Davies: “Vulnerable people depend on the honesty of people who work with them, like you.”

He was satisfied she was genuinely remorseful and acted out of a degree of desperation.

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