Boss Sara Venebles of Palm Care home in Greatstone jailed after stealing from vulnerable resident
Despite learning difficulties, a New Romney man worked hard and saved more than £10,250 for special treats.
The victim trusted the boss at the care home in Greatstone where he lived for eight years - and even signed a form giving her access to his cash.
But now a court has heard how heartless Sara Venebles, 37, systematically fleeced him of virtually every penny.
By the time the authorities began investigating the missing thousands...there was just £29 left in his account.
The victim’s sister told the court in a letter how he had been in care since he was 10 but was still able to work manually despite his learning problems.
She said the £10,250 represented his savings which was used “for treats and holidays and he was now deprived of those by the thefts”.
The sister added: “He feels very let down because he sustained this loss in what should have been a caring community.”
Canterbury Crown Court heard how over a two-year period, mum-of-two Venebles, of Ingram Close, Hawkinge, stole £500 on 20 occasions – which was the maximum daily amount which could be withdrawn.
Now the light-fingered £24,000 a year care home manager has now been jailed for eight months after a judge told her: “This was a particularly mean offence!”
Judge Adele Williams at Canterbury Crown Court
Prosecutor Donna East had revealed how the victim – known a ‘P’- had gone to Palm Care Home in Hardy Road, which helps adults with learning difficulties.
“The defendant had been employed a care home manager between November 2011 and March this year when she resigned after reporting ill from depression for a number of weeks.
“He had been there for eight years suffering from moderate learning difficulties and had a care plan devised by Venebles, including his financial arrangements.”
The devious manager reported that ‘P’ had very limited understanding of money and unable to recognise any coins or notes “or understand the value of money to buy things”.
She added: “He needs help withdrawing money as he doesn’t understand how much he needs..”
In February this year ‘P’ was moved to another home “because of concerns over his physical care at the previous home”, the prosecutor said.
Ms East added: “It was following that move that it was discovered that a bank account he held in the Nationwide was depleted of funds. Venebles was confronted but denied all knowledge of the account.
“Your crime outweighs all other considerations because this was a particularly mean offence” - Judge Adele Williams
“It was then discovered that there was only £29 left in the account. "Enquiries were made and it became clear the defendant had been regularly withdrawing £500 a time.
“And because she had the written authority, the bank didn’t challenge them, “ she said.
Venebles then admitted taking the cash claiming her initial plan had been to move the money into another account which offered better terms!
The manager said she had been in financial difficulties because a partner had lost his job and she used the money to pay her mortgage.
“She said she had been in financial straits and she said the money had not been used to pay for any lavish lifestyle, “ added Ms East.
But now she had no assets with which to repay the £10,250 she admitted stealing and was ordered to pay back just a nominal £1 – although if she comes into cash in the future the money would still have to be repaid.
Oliver Kirk, defending, said Venebles had now been offered a loan from her father of £5000 in which she planned to part-repay her victim.
He said she had amassed debts and “took the foolish and seriously wrong decision to take this money from the account and is now full of regret and embarrassment.”
Judge Adele Williams told her: “I have read a letter from your victim’s sister which makes very sad reading. That money was there for treats and holidays and it’s no longer there.
“This was a significant breach of trust. You were there to care for him. You were there to look after his affairs. Instead you stole the money.
“Your crime outweighs all other considerations because this was a particularly mean offence.”
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