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Friday, December 20, 2013

Carer jailed for stealing from 92-year-old to feed online bingo addiction

Carer jailed for stealing from 92-year-old to feed online bingo addiction

By Exeter Express and Echo | Posted: December 19, 2013

A care assistant has been jailed for looting £43,000 from a frail 92-year-old widow and blowing it on an addiction to online bingo.

Yvonne Palmer sneaked victim Josephine Holehouse’s cash card out of a pocket in her walking frame and used it to take out up to £1,000 a day while on shopping trips.

She covered her tracks by replacing the card in the bag and intercepting bank statements to prevent Mrs Holehouse or her mother uncovering the fraud.

Palmer even forged letters to the bank to transfer more money from savings accounts into the current account so she could steal it.

She was only caught because she spent some of the cash on a holiday and the bank statement arrived while she was away.

Palmer is the disgraced former matron of an old people’s home who has previous convictions for dishonesty including several for stealing from residents.

The 66-year-old, of Sussex Close, Torquay, admitted fraud and was jailed for two years by Judge Francis Gilbert, QC, at Exeter Crown Court.

He told her:”You were the part time carer for a lady of 92 and you systematically stole £43,050 over 12 months using the cash card from the pocket of her walking frame.

“You started in a small way but as your confidence grew so did the amounts and the frequency until you were withdrawing £1,000 a day.

“When the account ran low you forged her signature on letters to transfer money and replenish it.

You stole bank statements so her daughter could not find out what you were doing.

“You told her you were going to the shops on an errand but you withdrew money and then put the card back in the pocket of the walking frame.

“You used her money to gamble in the hope of winning more so you could cover your traces but the financial evidence shows you started the dishonesty before the gambling.

“It was a dreadful breach of trust and a serious offence by someone with a record of dishonesty which risked causing considerable anxiety and distress to a very elderly victim.”

Mr Gareth Evans, prosecuting, said the victim was Josephine Holehouse, aged 92, who was frail and
housebound. Her daughter Anne Farfield employed Palmer as a carer, who came in for an hour or two a day to look after her.

Palmer had worked for the family for 12 years and they first suspected something was amiss when they realised they had not received any bank statements for months.

They also noticed Palmer was spending more on outings, holidays, new clothes, hair styling and trips to the beautician.

He said in July this year Palmer went on holiday for a week and Mrs Farfield, who had repeatedly asked the bank to send statements, finally picked one up.

It showed money had been taken and police discovered there had been 126 cash withdrawals totalling £43,031 over a year.

Mr Evans said:”Palmer admitted forging letters to the bank and said she stole money because of a gambling addiction to online bingo games.”

Mr Jonathan Barnes, defending, said:”This was a dreadful breach of trust over a sustained period of time but Mrs Holehouse has been reimbursed by the bank.

“The money was frittered away. Some was spent on clothes and such like but most went in gambling. Her losses appear to have been £30,000. She has had the strength to confront her addiction and has joined Gamblers Anonymous.”

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