A mental health worker has been jailed for plundering thousands of pounds from a vulnerable man in his care.

Amir Khaliq's 61-year-old victim had severe mental health problems and learning difficulties, which meant he could not read and write, struggled to sign his signature, and left him at risk of abuse. He had been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.

Bradford Crown Court was told yesterday that Khaliq, 37, used his victim's Post Office bank card to withdraw £7,000 for himself over a period of more than a year. The money was never recovered.

Khaliq, of Cote Lane, Allerton, Bradford, pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position of trust.

The court heard he had spent some of the money on Christmas presents for his children and furniture to give them a better life.

But Judge John Potter, jailing Khaliq for eight months, said he had "plundered money from a severely disabled person".

Judge Potter said the offences were aggravated by planning, pre-meditation and the exploitation of a vulnerable victim.

He added: "The offending was over a significant period of time in circumstances which could only amount to a gross breach of trust."

Prosecutor Emma Downing said Khaliq was employed as a mental health care worker by the charity Creative Support. The complainant was an extremely vulnerable person in the care of the defendant who was employed to safeguard him and his financial position.

The complainant had lived in supported accommodation, but his health deteriorated and in December 2012 he started to live at Allerton Park Care Centre in Allerton. The defendant remained his key worker and was continued to be employed by Creative Support to assist him with his budget, delivering mail and social visits.

In July 2013 it was decided the complainant's care would be met 'in house' at the care centre and Khaliq's services were no longer required. He told the care centre manager he would keep the complainant's post office bank card and take him to the post office when he needed money, and this was mistakenly allowed to happen.

By January this year the complainant was £2,450 in arrears with his contributions towards the costs of his care. A Bradford Council mental health care officer became concerned and started to investigate. She interviewed the defendant about his financial arrangements with the complainant, and he was vague in his answers. She concluded there was a breach of protocol but nothing "criminal or untoward" had taken place.

But Creative Support started its own investigation and Khaliq admitted taking about £1,000 from the complainant's bank account. He was suspended and the police notified.

Miss Downing said: "When asked why he had taken the complainant's money, the defendant said he had used it for general things and the kids' Christmas presents."

Banking evidence disclosed regular withdrawals of cash, £300 on average, from the post office account with the complainant's card. A total of £13,860 had been withdrawn between December 2012 and January 2014, of which £7,000 was unaccounted for and had not been recovered, Miss Downing said.

She added: "This was a premeditated and determined multiple confidence fraud for financial gain, targeting an exceptionally vulnerable victim."

Khaliq's solicitor advocate, Nigel Jamieson, said: "It seems his main motivation for doing what he did was to provide for his two sons. He wanted better for them."