Weston-super-Mare care home worker stole from resident

A CARE home worker who stole £10,000 from a vulnerable resident to fund her gambling addiction was yesterday jailed for three months.

Sandra Hatherley was looking after the accounts at the Sandpiper care home when she took a female resident’s bank card and repeatedly helped herself to her cash.

The 49-year-old defendant, of Clevedon Road, Weston-super-Mare, admitted her crime to the home’s manager when she found herself withdrawing hundreds of pounds every week.

Hatherley was arrested and later admitted theft.

Paul Ricketts, prosecuting at Bristol Crown Court, told how gambler Hatherley stole £10,000 from 43-year-old Collette Sheridan.

He said the defendant had been working at the Sandpiper care home, a home for people with mental health and learning difficulties, in Beach Road, Kewstoke, when she stole the fortune. She had been taken on as a support worker but was looking after the accounts of the home and the residents from June 10.

Mr Ricketts said that on August 26 Hatherley approached the home’s manager and told him she had done a “terrible thing” and stolen thousands of pounds from Ms Sheridan’s account.

Asked what she had done with the money, Hatherley told the manager: “I gambled it all away.”

Mr Ricketts said the defendant confessed that she had been taking hundreds of pounds every week for the previous six weeks and the police were contacted. The defendant was arrested and interviewed the same day. She told officers how she had abused her position at the home to take money from an account and had hoped to put the cash back before it was missed.

Mr Ricketts said Hatherley had told how she had started gambling online and found that she had no money for her rent so she took £1,000 from Ms Sheridan’s bank account.

“On further investigation she agreed she had made withdrawals of £300 from the victim’s account. In total it amounted to £10,000,” said Mr Ricketts.

He said the defendant had won £9,000 on an internet bingo site on August 2 and had repaid £3,000 to Ms Sheridan but then continued stealing her money.

Mr Ricketts said the victim was unaware that her money had been stolen.

Ms Sheridan’s mother said in a statement that her daughter had been excited about plans to buy a caravan and put it in the grounds at Sandpiper to allow her to have some space away from the home.

However, £7,000 was still missing and the caravan could not be bought.

Ian Halliday, defending, said his client realised that her offending had been “thoroughly wrong, wicked and shameful” and her shame had led her one morning to come clean.

“She realised the only way of protecting the victim was to turn herself in to her employer, which she did tearfully,” said Mr Halliday.

Jailing Hatherley, Judge Roderick Denyer QC said: “Over a period of several weeks you stole quite a considerable sum of money from a young woman who clearly and obviously was very vulnerable and not capable of managing her own affairs and who was a resident in the home where you worked.”