A CARE worker who took advantage of a vulnerable pensioner and used her cash to buy £3,000 worth of goods has been warned she faces jail.
Angela Padley took Joan Artcliffe to Asda every week and allowed the pensioner to buy her gifts.
The fraud was uncovered when Mrs Artcliffe’s son checked her bank account and realised it was £3,000 short.
Michael Greenhalgh, prosecuting at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday, said the pensioner had a history of admission to psychiatric care.
He said: “One of the symptoms was compulsive or obsessive spending.
“In 2009, when Mrs Artcliffe was aged 72, Padley worked for Mears, which provided care to elderly individuals.
“That was how she met Mrs Artcliffe and her husband, a double amputee.”
Mr Greenhalgh said Padley, aged 42, became Mrs Artcliffe’s carer after her discharge from hospital.
When the pensioner got better, they agreed she would pay Padley £20 a week to take her shopping.
Mr Greenhalgh said: “The explanation Padley gives is she was bought various items by Mrs Artcliffe when they were shopping together, or was encouraged to buy items for which Mrs Artcliffe paid.
“She took advantage of her generosity, buying items for herself in the sum of £2,000 to £3,000.
“Padley was allowed access to bank cards and pin numbers and took advantage of that.”
Mr Greenhalgh said the fraud came to light in December 2010, when Mrs Artcliffe’s son, an accountant, checked her bank accounts.
Padley, of Tennyson Road, Herringthorpe, Rotherham, told police some of the items were for the pensioner.
Mr Greenahalgh said: “They included children’s clothing for children the same age as Padley’s; raw meat - the complainant didn’t cook, greetings cards, pet accessories - Mrs Artcliffe didn’t have a pet and men’s socks - her husband was paraplegic.
“When police searched Padley’s home, they found children’s toys, a shower curtain, books and two mobile phones.”
Padley, who has two previous convictions for dishonesty, admitted fraud.
The court heard she was convicted of stealing from her employer in 1989 and in 1999 was given a conditional discharge for benefit fraud.
Dermot Hughes, for Padley, said: “She did not obtain and misuse her bank cards and pin numbers.
“This was not a cynical fraud conceived at the outset, rather an offence that developed organically as the relationship developed.
“Mrs Artcliffe has a most peculiar psychatric condition which causes her to engage in excessive spending and to be, at times, spectacularly generous.”
“Padley didn’t know the complainant suffered from such a condition.
“She was desperate for company and was content to take Padley on shopping trips and purchase some items for her for modest value, in return for the defendant giving up her time and taking her to the supermarket.”
He said Padley, a mother-of-three, had not lived a ‘lavish’ lifestyle on the back of her offending and was vulnerable and suffered from depression and anxiety.
He said she was too ashamed to leave the house and was worried about the reaction of friends, family and neighbours when they found out what she had done.
Adjourning sentencing for a medical report, Recorder Mr Mark Bury told Padley: “You are looking at an immediate sentence of custody.
“You must not assume my adjourning this will lead to a non-custodial sentence, but it might affect the length.”