Support worker stole £15k from vulnerable to pay off his debt

A SUPPORT worker who stole nearly £15,000 from vulnerable residents has been jailed for 18 months.

Andrew Nolan, aged 47, worked for The Rowan Organisation, which is funded by Staffordshire County Council’s social services to provide help and support to disabled and vulnerable people.

Nolan worked with his victims on a daily basis.

Prosecutor Rashad Mohammed yesterday told Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court Nolan’s role was to help the victims manage their direct payments which they received from the local authority for their personal care, food and general utility bills.

But he abused his position by persuading them to hand over signed blank cheques to him.

Mr Mohammed said: “They allowed him to fill in the rest of the details, the name and amount, and they (the cheques) were paid in his bank account.”

Mr Mohammed said Nolan benefited by £14,615.

The court heard his offending came to light when he handed in his laptop for repair.

The victims included:

a man with a brain injury who is visited by a carer four times a day;
a partially sighted woman who is unable to stand up;
a woman with a learning disability;
a woman who has Parkinson’s Disease.

Mr Mohammed said the victims have since spoken of being left feeling sad, upset and annoyed by Nolan’s actions.

Nolan, of Moorland Road, Burslem, pleaded guilty to five charges of fraud between November 2009 and March 2010.

Stuart Muldoon, mitigating, said the offending was not sophisticated as Nolan was always going to be found out.

He said Nolan began the offending because he had got himself £20,000 in debt and was receiving threats from loan sharks.

Mr Muldoon said Nolan, of previous good character, is ashamed, disgusted and remorseful.

“He can’t look at himself in the mirror.

“He knows how vulnerable the victims are as he dealt with them on a daily basis. He knows he has abused their trust. He is extremely sorry.”

Judge Paul Glenn said the offences were so serious only an immediate custodial sentence was appropriate.

“It is no excuse whatsoever that you were in debt,” he said.

“You are an intelligent man and you knew there are other ways of dealing with the problem you had.

“You were in a position of considerable trust which you abused.

“You stole £14,615 from particularly vulnerable victims, people with physical and mental disabilities. Your offending was repeated.”

Judge Glenn said the sentence had to be substantial to deter others.

After the hearing, chief executive of The Rowan Organisation Rob Wilson said: “We are pleased to see the investigation has resulted in successful prosecution of Andrew Nolan, who we regard as having violated his position of trust and to have exploited vulnerable people he was supposed to have supported.”

Eric Robinson, director for people and deputy chief executive of Staffordshire County Council, added: “The breach of trust carried out by Andrew Nolan was a betrayal of vulnerable people who had every right to expect him to act in their best interests.

“The sentence reflects that betrayal of trust as well as the nature of the offence.”