A WORKER at a home for the elderly stole cash from the residents' spending money and falsified records to try to cover her tracks.

Blackburn magistrates heard when she was challenged Kate Michelle Wooley said she had used the money to buy takeaway for some of the residents.

But theft had been captured on CCTV and when she appeared in court Wooley admitted what she had done.

Wooley, 39, of Heys Close, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to theft of £50 from Barnfold Cottage Home for the Elderly in Oswaldtwistle. She was sentenced to eight weeks in prison suspended for 12 months and ordered to do 180 hours' unpaid work and complete 20 days of rehabilitation. She was ordered to pay £50 compensation and £85 costs.

Passing sentence, Deputy District Judge Tony Watkin said he had to sentence Wooley for a theft committed while she was in a high degree of trust.

"The people in that home required care and your actions betrayed the trust of your employer and those elderly and vulnerable residents," he said. "In my view that is a very serious offence and only a custodial sentence can be justified.

"What enables me to suspend that sentence is what I can see of you and what I have read about you in the pre-sentence report. I am fairly sure this court will never see you again and this is not a reflection of your true character."

Janice Vallance, prosecuting, said the manager at the Blackburn Road home was concerned about money going missing from petty cash and residents' spending money.

CCTV was installed and the manager put £50 in the individual residents spending money pouches which were kept in a draw. The next day the money was missing and a check of the CCTV footage showed Wooley going into the pouches before writing in the record books.

"She was the only worker on duty that night and the incident was clearly caught on the CCTV," said Miss Vallance.

"The manager said she felt angry and very let down because Wooley was stealing money from elderly residents who were clearly vulnerable."

Wooley was not represented and said she did not want to be represented by the duty solicitor.

"To say I regret what I did would be an understatement," she told the court.

"I am very ashamed of what I did. It was wrong, I got caught and I feel whatever punishment I do get it is not going to be as bad as I feel inside. I am just very, very sorry."