Lancashire care worker who stole more than £200,000 from vulnerable clients jailed

A Lancashire care worker who stole more than £200,000 from her clients left one victim unable to pay for their rehabilitation following a heart attack.

Chelsea Whittaker, 31, of Manchester Road, Accrington, previously pleaded guilty to stealing money from around 30 people.

She was sentenced to 27 months in prison after appearing at Preston Crown Court today (November 15).

Whittaker stole the money as she worked for Lifeways - a care company which runs homes across Lancashire for people with limited mental or physical capacity.

"Whittaker was in a managerial position which left her in charge of the finances of some of the most vulnerable people in our communities," DC Stephen Dixon, a Financial Investigator for Lancashire Police, said.

"Her victims relied on her and trusted her, and her betrayal of this is truly shocking."

One of Whittaker's duties was to oversee the finances for several residents and cash cheques for them when they needed money.

On several occasions between 2015 and 2018, Whittaker withdrew cash from their accounts and took some - or all of it - for herself, police said.

Chelsea Whittaker, who was trusted to manage the finances of dozens of vulnerable clients, has been jailed for stealing more than £200,000 (Credit: Lancashire Police)

Whittaker admitted in court last month (October) that she had stolen at least £200,000, but "not as much as £300,000".

The victims were based at care homes in Accrington, Burnley, Colne, Blackburn, Nelson, Haslingden, Morecambe, Skelmersdale and Leyland.

The families of all the victims have since been made aware of the thefts.

DC Stephen Dixon added: "I hope the sentencing today sends a clear message that we will not stand for this in Lancashire and we will robustly investigate any claims of this nature and will do everything in our power to bring offenders before the courts."

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The mother of one of Whittaker’s victims said her son had been left without any money in his bank as a result of her actions, leaving him unable to pay for basic toiletries.

The sister of another victim said her brother was left without enough money to pay for proper rehabilitative care as he recovered from a heart attack.

He died in hospital after becoming anxious and refusing further treatment.

The sister of a third victim told the court: "I struggle to believe that a woman we trusted so much with my brother's care has done this to him.

"I am so angry and devastated by it all."

She added: "She clearly didn't care that he was struggling in the last few years of his life and as he lay there she time and time again stole money from him in his most vulnerable position.

"She has left me with an enormous feeling of anger mixed with guilt that I wasn't able to stop her doing this to him.

"As a family our feelings are very raw and we feel devastated."

Lifeways said they "deeply regretted" the distress that was caused to Whittaker's victims and "support the police in the action and decisions they have taken".

"Lifeways have repaid the victims all the money stolen by Whittaker," a spokesman said.

"We take very seriously our obligations to the people we support and their families and carers, and we have reviewed and further tightened our procedures to prevent any such incidents happening in the future."

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