Thief carer ordered to pay back just £1 after stealing £16K
A CARER who stole about £16,500 from a wheelchair-bound cerebral palsy victim will have to pay back just one pound.
The prosecution at Gloucester Crown Court accepted that Maureen Blackwell, 58, had no assets available for confiscation under the Process of Crime Act, despite the scale of her theft from 64-year-old Margaret Russell.
Judge Jamie Tabor QC formally certified that Blackwell had benefited from crime to the tune of £15,775.40.
He certified that she had no assets and he made a nominal £1 confiscation order, warning her that if she came into funds in the future they would be taken from her.
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At her trial in May, Blackwell had denied 13 charges of defrauding Miss Russell, who has learning difficulties and lives in sheltered accommodation in Tewkesbury.
But the jury convicted her of all but one of the charges and in June she was sentenced to 30 months jail by Recorder Stephen Hall QC who said it was "an extremely serious breach of trust." He said her crimes had not only hit her victim but had also put carer colleagues under suspicion until her guilt was established.
Blackwell worked for the care agency Nursing Alliance and helped to look after Ms Russell at Marina Court, a sheltered housing complex run by the Hanover Housing Association.
She was one of a number of carers who worked 24 hours, seven days a week at the victim's home and in time she became her main carer.
Illicit withdrawals from Ms Russell's account always took place on days when Blackwell was working.
And some were made at a Tesco cash machine in Dursley, close to Blackwell's then home before she moved to Tewkesbury.
Her solicitor Jason Coulter told the court after her conviction that Blackwell's offences demonstrated the need for "rather more stringent procedures" to be put in place to safeguard the money of service users like Ms Russell.
"This trial has revealed a rather sordid, dishonest and unpleasant picture and hopefully lessons have been learned from this debacle about how better to do things in the future," he said.
No information was given in court as to why Blackwell had no funds.