Family's shock at care worker fraud

PUBLISHED: 10:09 16 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:10 11 May 2010

THE family of a disabled woman have described their shock at discovering that a carer was taking her savings. Gaynor Driver, of Bacons Yard, Ashwell, faces jail after being found guilty of three counts of fraud by abuse of position, and one of theft. The

THE family of a disabled woman have described their shock at discovering that a carer was taking her savings.

Gaynor Driver, of Bacons Yard, Ashwell, faces jail after being found guilty of three counts of fraud by abuse of position, and one of theft.

The 32-year-old pleaded not guilty to the charges, but a jury at Luton Crown Court convicted her of all four offences on Friday. She will be sentenced on October 30.

Driver was one of a team of carers from care firm Partners in Support looking after Michaela Hadley, who had just moved into a self-contained flat in Cain Court, Royston, when the offences took place.

Laura Hadley-Charter, Michaela's sister, said after the hearing: "Michaela had been living in a residential home in Bedford, and moved back to Royston to be nearer her family and be a bit more independent. She needs 24-hour care.

"But then my mum noticed that there was no money in Michaela's account. And we saw that a credit card application had been made in her name."

The court was told that on three occasions between June and September 2008,

Driver withdrew cash from Miss Hadley's account to buy items for the new flat.

Carers are allowed to help their clients with finances, and the first amount for £100 was supposedly withdrawn to buy a bed. But, said prosecutor Sarah Porter, the order was cancelled, and the money was never returned.

Two chairs that Driver had bought for Miss Hadley ended up in her own home, and £244 that was withdrawn was not spent.

The prosecution said the carer also applied for a credit card in the name of

Miss Hadley, using her details, and that she took £700 from Mencap, which had donated cash to help buy furniture.

Driver, who had an unblemished record, told the jury that she had failed to follow proper procedures, but never intended to keep the money permanently.

She said she was storing the chairs, and claimed she had repaid the money to

Mencap.

Judge Barbara Mensah said: "This is a particularly serious case of fraud because it involves a breach of trust. Custody will be first and foremost in my mind. It may only have been small amounts of money but your victim was very vulnerable."

The incident has left the Hadley family searching for a new care company for Michaela, who has learning difficulties and epilepsy.

Miss Hadley-Charter said: "Partners in Support are terminating her service, so we've had to start again from scratch.

"It's a shame that what was meant to be a positive move has been made so difficult for my sister."

Martin Nicholas, director of Partners in Support, told The Crow: "What she [Driver] did was outrageous so we're delighted with the outcome. Protection of vulnerable people is always paramount."

Mr Nicholas added that the firm was terminating Miss Hadley's service, but said it was "not related" to the incident.

"We have continued to support Michaela throughout the court case, including giving her financial assistance," he said.

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