JAILED: Care home owner from Skegness who stole £20k from disabled man

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A Skegness care home manager who stole more than £20,000 from a severely disabled man has been jailed for 12 months at Lincoln Crown Court.

Susan West, who was manager of the Byron House care home, used 67-year-old Eric Abbott’s bank card at cash machines to remove money over a three year period.

Mr Abbott, who was a long-term resident of the home, suffers learning difficulties and schizophrenia as well as a number of other physical health problems including a brain tumour, heart disease and cerebral palsy. He is also blind in one eye and suffers from deafness.

The court was told he needed to be accompanied by staff whenever he left the home and would be taken to ATMs by West to take out cash.

Andrew Scott, prosecuting, said that occasionally Mr Abbott withdrew money himself but often West would use his bank card for him.

The thefts came to light in November last year after a care assistant showed Mr Abbott his bank statement and he became extremely upset and agitated.

Mr Scott said that Mr Abbott began screaming “Susan’s stolen my money” and pointed out multiple cash withdrawals from his account.

An investigation was carried out and West confessed to stealing money. Police were called but West was then taken to hospital after telling officers she had taken pills and alcohol.

Despite having earlier confessed West went on to tell police during interviews that she had not stolen anything.

Susan West, 54, of Firbeck Avenue, Skegness, admitted theft of £23,850 from Eric Abbott between November 2012 and October 2015.

Judge John Pini QC, passing sentence, told her “It is clear to me that you targeted him as a vulnerable individual.

“I cannot deal with you in any other way than by an immediate custodial sentence.”

The judge ordered that a hearing to confiscate any available assets held by West should be held in March next year.

Terry Boston, in mitigation, said that West had worked as a carer for over 30 years during which time she had earned the respect of a lot of people.

He said “She has thrown it all away for this.

“She was thrust into the position of manager. She found it to be over-taxing. She didn’t have the organisational ability or, it seems, the stability to carry on doing this.

“She couldn’t cope with this. It was beyond her and it was making her ill.”

Mr Boston said that his client was receiving help from the mental health crisis team. He said she had debts of over £20,000 and a drink problem.