A CARE worker who raided the bank accounts of residents she was looking after has lost her liberty.
Despite offering to pay back all the £5,000 she had fraudulently obtained, Elizabeth Penno received an eight month prison sentence when she appeared at Doncaster Crown Court.
The 55-year-old maintained the scam for months before she was found out when she took time off work with stress brought on by her criminal behaviour, the court was told.
Penno, of Mansfield Crescent, Skellow, pleaded guilty to a fraud offence covering the period from October 2009 to July last year.
She had been a care worker of good character at the Amersall Grange home in Scawthorpe for several years before the offending began, said Richard Sheldon, prosecuting.
Penno was responsible for managing the bank accounts of residents with physical and learning difficulties, who could not understand the complexities of the banking system, and she had access to their bank cards and PIN details.
A total of eight residents had money taken from their accounts, totalling more than £13,000, although a lot of it was paid back in. The net loss to them was £5,194.
Mr Sheldon said the offences came to light when Penno was on sick leave and, when arrested, she fully confessed her involvement, saying she had financial problems at home.
“She thought of it as borrowing money but dug herself into a hole,” said Mr Sheldon.
Defence solicitor Cheryl Dudley handed in a cheque to cover the full amount her client had taken.
“The intention had always been to repay the money but unfortunately it got out of control. She lost track of where the money was coming from and she didn’t know how to correct the situation.
“It was not a coincidence that she became unwell as a result of the anxiety about the situation she had got herself into.
“She is disappointed that she has let herself down and other people because she had been a trusted member of staff,” said Miss Dudley.
The judge, Recorder Stuart Brown, QC, told Penno: “You knew that the people whose money you were stealing were vulnerable people who relied on you and they were entitled to assume you would not take their money and that the courts will offer them some protection.”