Carer stole £9,000 from residents to fund gambling

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A CARER who stole from vulnerable adults has been jailed for 15 months.

Darren French took more than £9,000 from residents of a project in Shotton Colliery to fund his gambling, Durham Crown Court heard,

Prosecutor Paul Currer said the two victims are incapable of looking after their money and trusted French to do so.

“An audit of the home’s finances was begun after concerns were raised,” Mr Currer added. “Records were far from complete and some account sheets went missing after French visited the premises while he was on the sick.

“Signatures of two staff were required to withdraw money from a resident’s account, but French persuaded other staff to sign a number of blank forms which he then countersigned and used later.

“In one transaction, £900 was withdrawn from the account of one of the victims, but only £100 was recorded as being spent for the victim’s benefit.

“When he was interviewed by police, French could not say what had happened to the other £800.”

French, 41, of Ninth Street, Horden, admitted two charges of theft between March, 2010, and January, 2011.

Jane Waugh, defending, said in mitigation: “There was no initial intent to steal the money.

“Mr French was in financial difficulties and fully intended to repay what he took.

“But it just snowballed and in the end he was robbing Peter to pay Paul.

“He is now bankrupt and will never work in care again, although he has been learning website design and is hopeful of work from a friend in that business.”

Ms Waugh added French would have difficulty coping in prison and he feared the loss of his home and marriage if he was locked up.

The Recorder, Mr Paul Watson QC, jailed French for 15 months.

The recorder told him: “A high degree of trust was placed in you by your victims which you grossly betrayed.

“Even when you were arrested your first response was to deny it and seek to blame other members of staff. The sentence would have been two years were it not for your plea of guilty.”

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