Carer at Kirkham firm stole thousands from elderly client

Crown Court
Crown Court

A disgraced former carer has admitted a string of theft and fraud offences against a vulnerable woman who later died.

Joanne Heald, 48, of Harwood Avenue, St Annes, gained employment with Advanced Home Care in Kirkham after penning herself a fake employment reference and sending it from an e-mail address that purported to be her ex employer.

Preston Crown Court heard she went on to steal nearly £3,000 cash from an elderly client in Lytham St Annes, and defraud her of more than £1,000.

Some of her crimes were committed while the poorly pensioner was dying in hospital.

During a hearing before Judge Heather Lloyd, she admitted two offences of stealing cash, identification paperwork, a chequebook and a cash card from the woman, and two offences of fraud by using the pensioner’s debit card.

The offences took place between September 27, 2016 and January 10, 2017.

Heald also pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud related to dishonestly giving the false employment reference.

The court heard the defendant provided care for an elderly lady, Christine Woodhouse, in her own home.

The pensioner was admitted to hospital in December 2017 and sadly died a few weeks later, resulting in the lady’s house being visited by care staff.

No money was found in the house and there was also a lack of paperwork and cash cards, prompting suspicion.

Police then searched the defendant's home and found possessions belonging to Mrs Woodhouse, including her driving license, her house and garage keys, personal paperwork and bank statements.

It was discovered the defendant had taken regular amounts of money, sometimes £250 at a time, out of her victim's bank account, totalling £2,750.

She had also splashed out on shopping in Tesco using the pensioner's bank card to the tune of £1,341.79.

The probe found Heald had sent a fake employment reference from a bogus e-mail address purporting to be a former employer in order to gain a job with Advanced Home Care.

The defendant, who is married with children and grandchildren, had worked as a manager for the St Annes area.

Debbie Kay, registered manager at the firm, said: " Joanne had passed all her DBS checks.

"We did have concerns with regard to her conduct and work performance so we started investigating.

"She always seemed to have excuses for not coming into work.

"I brought her into the office to advise her we weren't happy and she decided she wanted to quit.

" Mrs Woodhouse had no family, but a neighbour looked out for her.

"She was housebound and very vulnerable. She had been suffering with cancer.

" I arranged to see her neighbour. We had a chat and a lot of things came to light. I had asked for the elderly lady's solicitor to be present and we went into the house.

"Her neighbour told us she kept a briefcase with all her paperwork in it. We found it in her bedroom empty.

"That's when alarm bells rang and I contacted the police straight away.

"She deserves to be sent down, it is disgusting."

Heald will be sentenced on March 23.