Wetherby care worker told to expect jail for 'monstrous breach of trust' of vulnerable man

A care worker has been told to expect jail for a “monstrous breach of trust” in which she stole over £3,000 from a vulnerable man in her care.

Monday, 2nd December 2019, 10:49 am
Updated Monday, 2nd December 2019, 11:06 am

Sarah Louise Gee, 49, from Wetherby, preyed on the victim’s vulnerability and withdrew huge sums from his bank account after being put in charge of his welfare and finances.

York Crown Court heard that the victim had been taken into adult care after being sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

But Gee, who was working for a community care group in the Harrogate area, signed him out of a hospital where he was receiving specialist care in a hospital’s mental-health ward.

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Gee was committed to the Crown Court for sentence after being convicted of fraud by Harrogate magistrates.

The victim, who lives in Harrogate and was named in court, was admitted to the Cedar Ward at Harrogate District Hospital on October 3, 2017, but prosecutor Michael Cahill told the court: “The victim was signed out by (Gee) but not signed back in, as (should happen) per usual protocol.”

On December 7, Gee withdrew £150 from the victim’s bank account at a cash machine - the first of what was to become a series of withdrawals up to February 2018.

“The transactions from ATM (machines) totalled £3,500,” said Mr Cahill.

“It became apparent that the great majority of those transactions happened in Wetherby, the home town of the defendant.”

Gee’s ruse began to unravel late in February last year when one of the victim’s bills went unpaid.

“The unpaid bill was logged by the defendant as having been paid,” said Mr Cahill.

The victim’s bank informed the care group’s team leader that the bill couldn’t be paid because there were insufficient funds in his account, due to a series of cash withdrawals over the preceding months.

Gee told the team leader that she had lost the victim’s bank card, but this was a lie which was confirmed when the bank said they had not been informed of any such loss.

The care worker was arrested in April 2018, but told police that the victim had allowed her to borrow £1,000 and that she would have paid it back to him.

But Mr Cahill said this scenario just didn’t ring true because the victim had been sectioned and “would have been incapable (of coming to such an agreement)”.

Gee was committed to the Crown Court for sentence after being convicted of fraud by Harrogate magistrates.

She appeared for sentence on Tuesday, when the court was told she had form for fraudulent behaviour. In 2008, she received a two-year community order for benefit fraud.

Defence barrister Fiona Clancy said that Gee, of Northfield Place, Wetherby, had debts at the time she defrauded the vulnerable man in Harrogate.

“She was in council-tax arrears of £6,000 and was in rent arrears,” added Ms Clancy.

“The bailiffs went round to her house and she was threatened with eviction.”

Judge Sean Morris decided to postpone sentence until December 6 to give Gee time to put her affairs in order after hearing about her responsibilities as a mother - but told her she would be jailed.

“This was a monstrous breach of trust,” he added.

Gee was bailed until the sentence hearing in two weeks’ time.