Lytham care home worker jailed over thefts

A disgraced care home worker stole thousands of pounds and possessions from three vulnerable men he was supposed to support.

Friday, 3rd March 2017, 10:26 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:09 am
Belmar Nursing Homes, Clifton Drive, Lytham Saint Annes

Stephen McDermott, 28, has been jailed for 18 months after admitting three thefts from residents with learning difficulties, Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

His vulnerable victims were living at Belmar Nursing Home, an adult rehabilitation centre in Clifton Drive, Lytham, Preston Crown Court was told.

A 67-year-old victim had to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act shortly after learning of the devastating theft of £12,700, which McDermott blew on “spoiling” his girlfriend and impressing friends as he battled to save their relationship.

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Prosecuting, Frances McEntee said: “Those matters came to light when the activities co-ordinator was attending to one resident, taking him to Lloyds bank in Lytham on July 12.

“The cashier had asked when he had last withdrawn and whether he had withdrawn £500 from a cash machine.

“It became apparent because of his age or condition he was clearly very trusting and had been in practice of keeping his bank card and PIN number together.

“The defendant was traced by banking records that showed regular withdrawals from the cashpoint, usually at night time, and footage of the defendant at the machines.”

The court heard cash was stashed in different locations in his room at his aunt’s home in Preston and the victim’s bank card was found.

The theft of £500 from another man, and the theft of a laptop from a third also came to light.

The men are so vulnerable that care home manager Karen Rawstron had to make a victim impact statement on their behalf.

In it she said staff had to reassure the 67-year-old by going through all his belongings with a checklist and giving him a safe for his money and double lock on his door.

McDermott, of Alder Drive, Preston, hung his head in tears as defending, Sarah Magill explained his life had been affected as a result of the negative role his father played in his childhood, and problems within his family, which had led to depression.

She added: “He is adamant that he sought the work out for the right reasons, he didn’t engage in this employment because he was a predator in anyway.

“He genuinely wanted to help them.

“He absolutely loathes himself, he despises himself for what he has done to people who genuinely needed help from society and whom he wanted to help.

“He says he would do anything to give back the money and repay the community.

“He wants to say sorry to victims, their families and his own family. He says he understands why he is hated and that hatred is justified.”

The Honorary Recorder of Preston, Judge Mark Brown, said: “You were responsible for looking after the residents and were in a significant position of trust.

“It is clear that many of the resident had either mental health issues or related degenerative issues and were extremely vulnerable.

“You took advantage of the situation you were in by taking the bank cards of two of the residents and withdrawing money from their bank accounts with it.

“I’m satisfied that my public duty requires the imposition of immediate prison sentences.”