A CARER has been jailed after stealing thousands of pounds from her clients.
Pauline Pollock appeared for sentencing at Hereford Crown Court on March 26 after admitting three counts of fraud by abuse of position and one of theft.
Pollock worked for 27 years as a ‘shared lives carer’, initially for Herefordshire Council and then for Ategi Shared Lives Scheme, providing care placements for vulnerable adults when the fraud was exposed, prosecutor Phillip Beardwell said.
None of the three people the 56-year-old cared for between 2007 and 2016 had sufficient funds to pay for their own care and were part-funded by the council, with any left-over money after costs classed as spending money.
But instead of having these payments made to her victims’ own bank accounts, Pollock had set two of them up to arrive in her own account.
Pollock’s first victim did not have the mental capacity to pay his client contributions to care, and so she was to pay them on his behalf, the court heard.
But in 2010, a direct debit set up by Pollock to make the payments was cancelled as payments were repeatedly rejected.
She was told payments must be made, but failed to make them, causing a debt of over £4,000.
In 2013, the council contacted Pollock to say another of her victim’s contributions had not been paid and he was in debt.
In a 2015 annual review, she said she was holding the victim’s budget to minimise his overspending, while the victim said Pollock would make his contributions and give him the leftover cash.
That same year, the victim received a demand for outstanding contributions of £15,587.28.
Pollock said she had given him money each week to make payments and agreed to ensure he would pay in future and that a repayment plan would be drawn up.
But later that year a safeguarding referral was made as only two payments had been made, with just over £13,000 retained by Pollock, Mr Beardwell said.
Pollock had also kept and spent most of a £5,000 housing benefit payment for the same victim in 2013.
“She said she lent it to a family member and when told it was not hers to spend, she said it was not his money anyway and that he would have had to pay it back to the council,” Mr Beardwell said.
The third victim did have her own bank account, but Pollock would make withdrawals for her as she was unable to use a cash machine.
By 2015, she was £2,000 in debt, but the outstanding money was paid before a meeting.
But Pollock’s fraud was exposed when the third victim moved to another carer, who found suspicious payments and withdrawals amounting to thousands of pounds in her bank statements, including a payment to Belmont Vets in 2015.
In interview Pollock, who was heavily in debt, said she would withdraw her victims’ money from her account and divide it into contributions and spending money.
She denied keeping money, said she had given some to her son, who no longer speaks to her, and blamed some of the missed payments on an online payments system not working and others on poor record keeping at the council.
Pollock said the third victim loved to buy clothes and had spent money at Belmont Vets as she wanted to get fit by walking one of Pollock’s dogs and needed a collar and other accessories to do this.
It was found that this money had in fact been used to pay for treatment for one of Pollock’s dogs.
The total amount found to have been taken by Pollock from her victims came to £35,637.
Recorder Abigail Nixon said Pollock had abused the position of trust she was in.
“I find your comments in interview in which you said it was not your victim’s money particularly unattractive,” she said.
“It is clear you blamed the victims for the lack of payments and you continued to act in the way you did despite repeated warnings.”
Pollock, of Dulas Avenue, Hereford, was jailed for thirty months.