Bristol care home boss stole £70,000 from pensioners
TWO pensioners with severe learning difficulties trusted care home manager Jane Davis with their money … but she repaid them by stealing nearly £70,000.
Davis, 47, repeatedly withdrew cash from two vulnerable women’s bank accounts over nearly seven years, Bristol Crown Court heard. But despite this repeated abuse of trust, she walked free from court with a suspended jail term.
Davis used cards belonging to Jean Oliver, 74, and Sheila Jackson, 76, to get money from cashpoints or receive cashback on purchases.
Now she has been forced to sell her home and use the family’s savings to pay back £50,000 to Ms Oliver and £17,000 to Ms Jackson.
Married mother Davis, of Huckford Road, Winterbourne, even took cash out while her unknowing victims were stood next to her, the court heard.
She made withdrawals from their accounts while on family holidays at Butlins and Center Parcs and once on Christmas Day.
Davis tried to cover her tracks by claiming she had been putting the cash into savings accounts to pay for the women’s funerals.
She later claimed her crimes had been fuelled by her belief that people with learning difficulties received “too much money”.
Bristol Crown Court was told Davis’ thefts had deprived the two women of special treats and days out from the Aspects and Milestones Trust care home in Gloucester Road North, Filton, where they received around-the-clock support.
Davis, who was supported in court by her husband, broke down in the dock when Recorder Sarah Munro QC ruled she would avoid an immediate prison sentence.
She revealed Davis had attempted to take her life since her arrest as she imposed a 12-month suspended prison sentence and ordered her to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.
Davis, who has been suspended from her job, will be banned from working with vulnerable people.
Julian Howells, prosecuting, said Davis was responsible for the women’s finances and was entitled to make purchases for them as long as they were recorded in a log book.
But he said Davis would make large withdrawals and then enter a small sum into the log book so it would not stand out.
The prosecutor said she took an average of £100 from the women’s accounts each time she made a withdrawal, stealing just under £3,000 in 2004, increasing her haul to £7,000 in 2005, £13,000 in 2006 and £14,000 in 2007.
Mr Howells said Davis was caught in March when a member of staff opened Ms Oliver’s bank statement and became suspicious when she discovered a £150 withdrawal.
When the log book was checked, several anomalies were found and an investigation was launched.
On arrest, Davis said stealing the money had become a habit and said she had been getting away with it because checks were not being made on the withdrawals. She insisted she had not used the stolen £67,633.20 to fund a lavish lifestyle.
Davis said she did not need the money and was earning £1,400 a month in her job as manager, while her husband, who was unaware of the theft, was paying off the couple’s mortgage.
The thief claimed her actions were partly down to being unable to get help for her cancer-stricken father.
Mr Howells said: “This is a case of someone who was treating the cash cards as if they were her own.”
Davis, who hung her head throughout the hearing, admitted 12 counts of theft and had asked for two further offences to be taken into consideration.
Jennifer Tallentire, defending, said: “The shame of even walking through the door of the court is a punishment more than any of us can even imagine.
Of her suicide attempts, she added: “This is not a woman who is trying to play emotional blackmail with the court. This is a lady who is absolutely broken.”
Recorder Munro said the crimes were “very easy” for Davis to commit because she had unrestricted access to the bank cards.
She said: “The reason it was so easy was because the breach of trust by you was so gross.
“The victims had no way of knowing what you were doing or complaining that they had lost out.”
After the court case Mel Akers, chief executive of Aspects and Milestones Trust, a health and social care charity covering the former Avon area and Gloucestershire, said: “Jane Davis betrayed the trust placed in her by the people she supported, her colleagues and this charity.
“As soon as we discovered Jane Davis had stolen money, we informed the police and wish to thank them for the sensitive way in which they dealt with the case.
“We also audited accounts of all the people we support and have introduced strict new guidelines in the hope we can prevent this happening again.”