South Yorkshire carer spared jail over £9k theft

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A SOUTH Yorkshire care manager who plundered the savings of adults with severe learning difficulties has been spared jail.

Donna Herbert, aged 42, stole more than £9,000 from four men over a 16-month period.

Sheffield Crown Court heard she ‘exploited’ her role at the Haverhills Project, Wombwell, Barnsley, where she managed the adults’ financial affairs.

Neil Coxon, prosecuting, said: “This was a breach of a high degree of trust.”

Herbert, of Probert Avenue, Goldthorpe, admitted four offences of fraud by abuse of position between March 2010 and July 2011. The mum-of-two stole a total of £9,130 from her victims, who all needed 24-hour care.

The court heard Herbert had been manager at the care providers for 10 years and had access to the bank accounts of all four men through their personal identification numbers and bank cards.

When cash was withdrawn, it should have been recorded, but Herbert either failed to note it or entered less than was taken.

Discrepancies noticed in bank accounts came to light and Herbert was suspended after a probe.

When asked to clear her desk and leave she claimed she had not done anything wrong, but when she was asked to open her handbag, £1,200 was found inside.

Herbert admitted making withdrawals from each of the adults’ accounts over a period of time and failing to properly record it.

Alison Dorrell, for Herbert, said she was suffering from a depressive illness at the time.

Miss Dorrell said: “These are unattractive offences and she condemns herself more than anyone ever could.”

The court heard she and her disabled husband, for whom she is the full-time carer, were on the verge of bankruptcy.

Miss Dorrell said: “This money was simply being used to pay for food on a daily basis.”

Sentencing Herbert to eight months in jail, suspended for 18 months and 80 hours of community work, Recorder Jane Rowley said: “In stealing from vulnerable victims you fundamentally breached your position of trust.”

She said Herbert was spared jail because the offences were out of character and it was clear she was ‘deeply ashamed’.