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Swain House community support worker given suspended sentence
A care worker stole £1,200 from the bank account of a vulnerable man who relied on her for support.
Patricia Mandondo was told by a judge yesterday that it was difficult to picture a more serious breach of trust.
Stephen Bridge had learning difficulties and had 24-hour residential care at the centre.
Prosecutor Alan Jones said Mr Bridge had his benefits paid into a savings account and had a current account for day-to-day expenditure. Support workers were supposed to document any expenditure and a carer would take him to the bank and assist him to withdraw money when he needed it.
Investigations were undertaken at the centre when Mr Bridge had insufficient funds to purchase an iPod, and bank statements were scrutinised.
Mr Jones said the defendant, who had access to the resident’s bank details, had told another carer that the savings account had closed, but that was not the case. Mandondo was suspended for an unrelated matter and the offence was uncovered in her absence.
Mr Jones said £1,200 had been withdrawn from Mr Bridge’s account on September 18, 2008. Handwriting analysis showed Mandondo had signed the cheques, which were not authorised by Mr Bridge, or for his benefit.
Chloe Fairley, representing Mandondo, who had no previous convictions in the UK or her native South Africa, said her client had been in significant financial difficulties.
Bailiffs were being called in respect of her council tax and her mortgage payments were under threat. She was a full-time registered carer for her husband. Miss Fairley said the offence had been “incredible madness”.
Mandondo, of Lilac Court, Killingbeck, Leeds, pleaded guilty to one charge of theft.
Recorder David Bradshaw sentenced her to six months’ imprisonment suspended for two years, and a 12-month community order, with supervision and 100 hours’ unpaid work.
The judge said he had seriously thought about sending her to prison immediately but had decided against it, given her particular circumstances.
He told her: “You committed a despicable offence, taking advantage of someone who was disadvantaged and relied upon you, not only to help him, but to look after his finances – not to do what you did and steal a substantial sum of money from him.”