Disgraced carer escapes jail term — (South Wales Echo)

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South Wales Echo

Jul 18 2005

Anna Hammond, South Wales Echo

A disgraced carer has been spared prison despite stealing thousands of pounds from a disabled woman.

Susan England looked after chair-bound Sally Smith for four years – doing her shopping and paying her bills.

But the temptation of having access to her client’s finances proved too great for the single mother-of-three and she began helping herself to her cash.

Today, her 58-year-old victim, who is crippled with arthritis, said: ‘I’m very upset because I treated Sue like part of the family. ‘I’d helped her out with money when I could. When I found out what she had been doing I couldn’t get my head around it. I just wanted to know why she did it.’

Cardiff Crown Court heard that for around two years, England, from Fishguard Road, Llanishen, Cardiff, stole £3,600, spiralling her victim into debt. On one occasion she withdrew £100 to take Miss Smith out for a ‘birthday treat’ to the Ty Glas pub in Llanishen, where two meals were being served for the price of one for £4.99.

The court was told how another carer had become suspicious while checking Miss Smith’s statements in March of this year.

‘Her bank account was overdrawn and that should not have been the case,’ said prosecutor Claire Pickthall.

Twice-divorced England, who has been on medication for depression, was confronted and owned up to theft. Her barrister Robert Render said: ‘She engaged in disgraceful behaviour which she can neither explain or justify.’

England, who has a 16-year-old daughter and two sons, aged 13 and six, must do 80 hours of unpaid community work. A five-month prison sentence was suspended for 12 months.

His Honour Judge Christopher Llewellyn-Jones QC said: ‘You are perhaps fortunate that you are being sentenced today as the Criminal Justice Act gives me the ability to be a bit more lenient. Six months ago I would have had to impose an immediate custodial sentence.’

He said prison would have disastrous consequences on her family. ‘Your children would face the prospect of going into care and I don’t think society requires me to do that,’ he added. Her previous good character and early guilty plea were also taken into consideration.