Published: 06:00, 19 April 2021
| Updated: 15:58, 19 April 2021
A former care home boss who conned more than £17,000 from vulnerable residents - including a blind grandmother - has avoided jail.
Susan Rule told one elderly guest, John Brown, the cheques he wrote were for his care at Montague House in Ramsgate.
But the 50-year-old doctored them in her own name only to then fritter £13,000 worth of his savings.
Rule was handed a suspended sentence at Canterbury Crown Court after she admitted two counts of fraud by abuse of position.
The care home boss of 28 years told her victim to also stump up a £1,000 cash down payment, which she also stole.
She also took his bank card and withdrew £600 before turning her attention to Jene Chamberlaine, an immobile, visually impaired 92-year-old grandmother.
The court heard Rule used her credit card to steal £2,700 from various cash machines. She then made various other unsuccessful withdrawal attempts.
“This was not something well thought out, this wasn’t a person with a plan to steal..."
Ms Chamberlaine was not told about the theft by her family to spare her becoming alarmed and frightened.
Prosecutor Kemi Fapahunda said: “John Brown gave £1,000 to Miss Rule as a float. She asked him for more bank details and pin numbers.
“Mr Brown would sign cheques that he thought would cover his stay at the care home but those cheques were in fact made out to herself.”
She explained Ms Chamberlaine was “immobile, deaf, had difficulty with her sight and use of a computer”.
But her lawyer Ben Irwin argued Rule, 48 at the time of her crime-spree, had become wrought with stress after 28 years of being on call.
Rule, who was of previous good character, began “acting out of character,” he added.
“She would make up events (to colleagues), make up things she had seen, she had done, as if living out of a sort of fantasy when she was going home and watching the television.
“She then began to behave in an even more out of character way and take money from residents, and fritter it away,” the lawyer continued.
“This was not something well thought out, this wasn’t a person with a plan to steal because she wanted to live in a better place or drive in a better car.”
The court heard when officers arrested Rule they discovered £800 worth of screwed up banknotes in her wardrobe.
"It’s all very good saying you’re sorry but those people need the money back...”
Judge Rupert Lowe told Rule it was a “despicable theft” but he ruled a spell in jail could be suspended, although she must pay the money back.
“You wrote out five cheques to yourself, a total of £13,460 and you used (Mr Brown’s) bank card to withdraw £600 from the ATM helping yourself to £15,060 of his money when you were in a position of trust which you grossly breached.
“A second resident Jene Chamberlaine, who was deaf and immobile had a credit card which you used to withdraw cash to the value of £2,700 - she has since died and was not told by her family because they didn’t want to upset her.
“This is undoubtedly a case where you owe the money back to the people from whom you stole.
“There will be financial orders in the end, it’s all very good saying you’re sorry but those people need the money back,” he said.
Rule, of Prospect Terrace in Ramsgate, who pleaded guilty to both counts of fraud at an early opportunity, was visibly relieved after the judge passed sentence.
She was handed 16 months suspended for two years, 20 days rehabilitation and 200 hours of unpaid work.
The care home, previously based in Brockenhurst Road, has since closed.