Ex-Kent Autistic Trust boss Ruth Bray from Gillingham jailed for nine months after admitting she falsified accounts of vulnerable pair
A former manager at a charitable organisation has been jailed for stealing almost £14,000 from two vulnerable people in her care.
Ruth Bray fleeced the accounts of two people at Kent Autistic Trust (KAT) over a three-year period between August 2008 and May 2011.
The 48-year-old, of Sunnymead Avenue, Gillingham, was sentenced to nine months after admitting two offences of false accounting.
Ruth Bray admitted two offences of false accounting
A judge said he took into account her ill-health - having suffered from breast cancer - but told her: "If individuals such as yourself cannot be trusted society as a whole becomes a far weaker place."
Maidstone Crown Court heard one male victim was a resident at KAT, which operates from High Street, Brompton, and a second female victim was receiving 24-hour care.
"If individuals such as yourself cannot be trusted society as a whole becomes a far weaker place..." - Judge Philip Statman
Bray was an independent living manager for the organisation that cared for people who were not in a position to handle their affairs.
Prosecutor Christopher May said Bray was responsible for checking cashbook entries by reconciliation with bank statements.
But staff noticed withdrawals from cash machines that were not recorded appropriately.
A total of £11,031 was taken from the man's account in 141 withdrawals and £2,783 from the woman's in 39 withdrawals.
"The Crown say it is a clear breach of trust case, not least because of her senior position," said Mr May. "There is repeated offending over a substantial period of time."
Bray resigned in July 2011 and at first claimed she had not taken the money, but was responsible for bad record keeping. A trial date was set, but she then pleaded guilty.
The sister of one of the victims, Colleen Jordan, 53, from Rainham, described the offence as a callous act against a vulnerable person in a position of trust.
Judge Philip Statman sits at Maidstone Crown Court
Judge Philip Statman said the case had the "deeply unattractive feature" of victims who were vulnerable.
He told Bray: "You held a highly responsible position. These offences constituted a grave breach of trust by a person in a senior position.
"She has found it very difficult to accept she is the kind of person who has committed criminal offences. It was a slow penny to drop..." - Alexia Zimbler, defending
"The effect on the families of your victims has been substantial. You must appreciate just what it is you have done and the impact of your offending on the community as a whole."
Alexia Zimbler, defending, said Bray was an organiser and manager, but not an accountant.
"She didn't set out to be fraudulent," said Miss Zimbler. "There were circumstances surrounding her at the time. There are no excuses for the offences but it explains the difficulty she got into.
"She felt she couldn't get out of it. There was increasing stress placed upon her. She knew what she was doing but was unable to stop herself.
"She was expected to manage numerous sites and people. There were numerous people in her care. She was suffering mentally and financially.
"She has found it very difficult to accept she is the kind of person who has committed criminal offences. It was a slow penny to drop. She has come to court prepared to go into custody."
The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court
The court heard Bray had treatment for breast cancer and was due to have further reconstructive surgery. She was still suffering with chest infections and shortness of breath, said her lawyer.
Judge Statman said chemotherapy and radiotherapy had taken its toll on Bray and she was still taking substantial amounts of medication.
"All these matters I well and truly take into account," he said.
The judge added he had decided to go right to the bottom of the range when sentencing.
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