A care home worker used a vulnerable resident’s bank card to purchase more than £6,000 worth of household items.

Julie Morris, 51, said the rising cost of living and the Covid-19 pandemic had affected her and her family’s financial position and she thought this was an “easier option” than asking for help.

Morris worked at Hope House care home in Clayton-le-Moors for more than 15 years before resigning with immediate effect prior to returning to work after a period of annual leave.

Prosecuting at Burnley Crown Court, Rachel Oakdene said the regional manager for Hope House, Sian Hughes, contacted the police on July 12, 2022, to report a theft.

She told them between October 7, 2021 and July 11, 2022, one of the elderly residents, Kevin Fox, had had £6,180 taken from his personal bank account.

Mr Fox had been a resident at the care home since October 2018 and suffered from learning difficulties, Parkinson’s Disease, and mobility issues.

Lancashire Telegraph: Hope House care homeHope House care home (Image: Google Maps)

In October 2021 staff started noticing regular activity on Mr Fox’s bank account. They cancelled the card and ordered him a new one, which was to be managed by Morris as the home’s administrator.

When a bank statement showed Mr Fox had just £8 in his account rather than the expected thousands, the home requested a breakdown of the transactions and found regular ATM withdrawals and purchases in Accrington, ranging between £50 and 200 at a time.

A safe at the home contained the card and a letter containing the pin number, which Morris had access to.

On July 27, 2022, police attended her home in Canal Street, Church, and arrested her on suspicion of theft and fraud. She made full admissions in an interview and a letter of admission was seized by the police.

In that letter, Morris said she had been struggling financially and “thought it was the easier option than to ask for help.”

She added she was “truly sorry and I will pay every penny back.”

Mark Stuart, defending Morris, said: “The defendant recognises and has done for the last two years she may well lose her liberty and accepts total responsibility.

“She accepts Mr Fox is vulnerable.

“She resigned, which was the right thing to do, and she made her new company wholly aware of what the position is.

“She cannot apologise any more than she has to Mr Fox.”

Sentencing, Judge Richard Archer said: “Having been employed in an administrative role at Hope House for a significant period of time, you found yourself in a position where you were able to gain access to Mr Fox’s bank card.

“That was rightly kept in the safe of the residential care home, so it could be secured and there was an element of control over who could access that card.

“You took that card and repeatedly used it over a period of about seven months. I accept entirely there was no motivation of greed in your case and I accept the money was not used on treats or luxury, it was simply to meet the day-to-day needs of a family who found themselves stretched as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lancashire Telegraph: Burnley Magistrates' Court, where the case was heard as a Crown Court hearingBurnley Magistrates' Court, where the case was heard as a Crown Court hearing (Image: Archive)

“Very few other families resorted to crime as a way in which to make ends meet.

“It may well be he is blissfully ignorant to the fact he has been a victim of a mean crime, but he earned that money, it was his money. It was not yours to steal and you took it.”

Morris, who has no previous convictions, admitted one count of theft and one count of fraud by false representation.

She was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months. She must also complete 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days and 100 hours unpaid work.