A CARER at Redwood House in Hungerford preyed on a vulnerable, elderly resident by fleecing him of hundreds of pounds, a court was told.
And in a surprise twist, the thief went on to claim she had a co-worker accomplice.
In the dock at Reading Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, February 22, was 22-year-old Poppy Kington.
The court heard she was employed as a carer at the extra care home in Coldharbour Road.
Charlotte Abbotts, prosecuting, said the victim was vulnerable because he was partially-sighted and suffered from a range of other health issues, including dementia.
She said Ms Kington knew the money was hidden in a medicine cabinet.
Ms Kington, who lives at Webbs Way, Burbage, Wiltshire, admitted stealing the cash from Brian Deacon between January 1 and June 30 last year.
She has no previous convictions.
Asked whether she had anything to say, Ms Kington, who represented herself in court, said only: “I’m very sorry for what I’ve done.”
But a probation officer who interviewed her told the court that she claimed a colleague had been deeply involved in a plot to fleece the victim.
The officer said: “She says she had a friend, a co-worker, who was pregnant.
“The maternity leave payments weren’t much and this was going to put [the co-worker’s] finances under a large amount of strain, so they both took the decision to take the money.
“She has since cut all ties with that individual and says she should never have done it.”
The court heard that Ms Kington continues to be employed as a carer and that her new employer was not aware of her conviction.
District judge Sophie Toms told her: “This is extremely serious, do you realise that? The starting point in the guidelines is one year’s custody.
“The reason for that is you were in a position of trust, working with people who were vulnerable.
“However, probation say you’re a low risk as regards offending in the future.”
She sentenced Ms Kington to 16 weeks imprisonment – but suspended that for 12 months.
In addition, Ms Kington was required to carry out 150 hours’ unpaid community work.
Finally, she was ordered to compensate her victim in full and to pay £85 costs plus a statutory victim services surcharge of £85.
Opened in winter 2013, Redwood House is a purpose-built extra care scheme run by Sovereign Housing and overseen by West Berkshire Council
After the case a spokeswoman for Sovereign Housing, Tim Abbott, said: “The care service is contracted by West Berkshire Council... so it’s probably best for them to comment on this.”
A spokeswoman for the council, Peta Stoddart-Crompton, said: “Employment issues relating to Poppy Kington would have been managed by the service provider – Mears – at the time of the incident as she was employed by them.”
Newburytoday contacted Mears Group executive director Alan Long and communications director Gary Jackson.
We asked them whether:
* A co-worker was found to be involved or whether Ms Kinton’s mitigation was a slur on an innocent woman
* Ms Kington still worked in any capacity for Mears Group
Mears Group acknowledged the queries but a spokeswoman for the company, Louise Riley, said: "We no longer have the contract for this provision," and declined to answer the questions.