A CARE manager from Rustington who preyed on a vulnerable resident at a Worthing care home has avoided prison.
Sheelah Macey, 60, of Mill Lane, Rustington, was found guilty of fraud in May after she took more than £5,000 from a resident at Victoria Parkview care home, in Madeira Avenue, Worthing.
She appeared at Chichester Crown Court on Friday, where Judge William Wood QC described it as a ‘disgraceful fraud committed against an extremely vulnerable resident’.
She was given a suspended sentence of 20 weeks in prison.
“You were able to take from this unfortunate person – suffering from very considerable disability – quite a lot of her money at a time when you were for no obvious reason in financial difficulty,” said Judge Wood.
“You were simply tempted to prey upon her as a very vulnerable person and the obtaining of a bank account in her name demonstrates a degree of planning which is very serious.”
The 69-year-old victim was placed in the care home by social services when her carer died in 2009.
Macey’s offence dates from March, 2011, until September, 2011.
She took the victim to her bank to withdraw money.
She had the victim’s savings account changed to a current account and then used a bank card to withdraw sums of cash between £200 and £300 at a time.
She also wrote and signed three cheques that she paid into her own bank account, amounting to a total of £5,400.
Macey was the manager at the care home. When it was purchased by a new owner in July, 2011, she stayed on as acting manager.
Prosecuting, Jonathan Edwards said she was ‘quite controlling’ of the staff and ‘obstructive’ towards the new owner.
The fraud came to light when Macey went on holiday and the deputy manager noticed a problem with the resident’s finances.
In June, Macey was sentenced to pay back the stolen money by September 13, with added prosecution costs of £1,355.
The court heard Macey was still making payments to clear the outstanding amounts.
Acknowledging on Friday that the majority of the money had been repaid – and there was set to be regular payments for the rest – Judge Wood said he was ‘just persuaded’ to suspend the prison sentence for 20 months.
Macey was also given a curfew order.
It was considered whether she should have to do unpaid work, but this was ruled out as she spent a lot of time in hospital.
The 60-year-old had two previous offences on record – one of which was obtaining property by deception and theft in 1996.