COUNTY NEWS: Care worker jailed for stealing £2,000 from disabled men to fund gambling

Mills was jailed for taking advantage of a man with autism and Cerebral palsy. Picture: Sussex Police
Mills was jailed for taking advantage of a man with autism and Cerebral palsy. Picture: Sussex Police

A care worker who stole almost £2,000 from two disabled men at a Sussex care home to fund luxury gifts and online gambling has been jailed.

Trusted carer Scott Mills was told to repay almost £2,000 when he appeared at Worthing Magistrates’ Court today.

The victims were residents at Ashley Place care home in Kings Parade, Bognor. Picture: Google Maps/Google Streetview

The victims were residents at Ashley Place care home in Kings Parade, Bognor. Picture: Google Maps/Google Streetview

Mills was responsible for taking vulnerable residents of Ashley Place care home in Bognor for days out in the community.

But instead he abused his position and stole from two of them – one of whom has cerebral palsy and autism – in a ‘gross abuse of trust’.

Mills, 30, of Stroud Green Drive in Bognor, had denied the charges and was convicted at trial of stealing £1,238.02 from one man, and £719.32 from another between October 2016 and January 2017.

Prosecutor Gaynor Byng told the court: “The first victim had Cerebral palsy, autism and learning disabilities and had been there for a number of years.”

The victim’s bank statements showed payments to a betting site and a Sky subscription, as well as PayPal payments.

Miss Byng said Mills created his Sky account under the name ‘Katie’ because of his poor credit rating.

“Following on from the discovery staff identified a second victim who had been on numerous trips out in the community.

“The fact that he is wheelchair-bound means it is difficult for him to reach cash machines to withdraw money.”

The prosecutor told the court how Mills had initially denied any wrongdoing, blaming the charges on faults with the Apple Pay system.

Richard Finlay, defending, said: “He accepts he was in a position of trust.

“If he could turn the clock back he would do that.

“He is not good with figures. He has always relied on other people to deal with his finances

“He did spend money on gambling to take his mind off other problems.”

The court heard Mills has racked up debts of ‘well over’ £10,000 following a split from his partner.

Mr Finlay said Mills had offered to repay the first victim from the outset and had written a letter to the court after the trial admitting what he had done.

Judge James questioned why Mills had not simply admitted his crimes instead of letting the charges go to trial.

Sentencing Mills, he said: “There was an abuse of a position of trust over a sustained period.

“Two victims were clearly targeted due to their condition – that is itself a gross abuse of trust.”

He criticised Mills for stealing in order to pay for ‘luxury items’ and Christmas gifts.

He added: “It is clear to me that the sentence that I pass must be an immediate custodial sentence to punish you and to deter others.”

Mills was jailed for 24 weeks for each of the two charges, to be served concurrently.

He will likely serve 12 weeks and then be released on licence.

He must also repay the £1957.34 to the two victims.