A council employee jailed for stealing cash from the accounts of vulnerable adults in Suffolk was under ‘huge stress’ because of staffing cuts, it was claimed in court.
Caroline Green, 44, of Smithy Close, Rougham, had been ‘struggling’ to administer payments for people with mental and learning problems,Ipswich Crown Court was told on Friday.
Her barrister, Charles Falk said that after staffing cuts and the retirement of Green’s manager, who had suffered a stroke, Suffolk County Council had failed to look after the remaining employees properly.
Green, who pleaded guilty to five offences of fraud by abuse of position through false accounting between November 2010 and July 2012, had worked for Suffolk County Council at West Suffolk House in Bury St Edmunds.
She had altered figures on paperwork, sometimes using correction fluid to blot out the original sum, to withdraw larger sums of cash than was actually handed over to carers.
Green, pictured left, who had worked for Suffolk County Council since 1990, managed to steal about £12,000.
The court heard that Suffolk County Council had replaced all the missing money to ensure no vulnerable people were left out of pocket.
Jailing her for a total of 10 months, Judge Peter Jacobs said the thefts had been from accounts held by the council for vulnerable people who were unable to look after their own financial affairs.
When carers tried to draw money from some of the accounts to pay bills for the people they were helping, they found none was left due to Green’s activities, said the judge.
Judge Jacobs said the thefts had been ‘well planned’ by Green and told her:“All in all it was a pretty cruel thing to do.”
Among the victims were an 84-year-old man suffering from cancer and dementia and his 86-year-old wife.
Appearing for Green, Mr Falk said: “This is a particularly unsophisticated fraud which was bound to fail as soon as someone examined the forms.
“There is no suggestion that this was done for greed or to fund an extravagant lifestyle.”
Green, a single parent with a teenage son, had fallen into debt meeting her everyday expenses, said Mr Falk who told the court that the frauds had been a reaction to the ‘huge stress’ she had been under at work.
In addition to jailing Green, who had been employed as a business support manager,Judge Jacobs ordered her to pay a nominal £1 in compensation after hearing that she had no assets which could be seized.