A cruel carer caused a military veteran to try and take his own life after she stole £46,751.75 from his bank to fund her gambling addiction.
Alana Squire, 37, took thousands of the man’s cash over a period of 29 months when she was entrusted to assist him with his medication, cooking, cleaning and personal care.
A court heard Squire, a mum of two, preyed on the 63-year-old man while she worked for Bluebird Care, a home care services agency. She had lost more than £137,000, mostly with Gala Bingo, Mecca Bingo and Sky Bet as a gambling addiction deteriorated.
But she was jailed for three years at Teesside Crown Court today after pleading guilty to fraud.
The veteran, who has limited mobility after his knee cap was removed, attempted to take his own life due to his financial situation, Teesside Live reports.
Paul Newcombe, prosecuting, said: “He was a lonely isolated and highly vulnerable individual who relied on the defendant for human contact and interaction. She willfully ignored rules forbidding staff from developing a financial relationship with customers or seeking financial aid.”
The court heard in July 2018 Squire told the victim she was short of cash and couldn’t pay her bills or afford school uniform for her children.
Mr ewcombe said: “He took pity on her and gave her his bank card and pin number for her to borrow money for the items and the defendant promised in return to pay him – but soon she was making weekly requests for money to such an extent that the complainant became concerned he would lose all his savings.
“The crown say the defendant exploited the complainant’s kindness, vulnerability and generosity.”
Analysis of the victim’s account show average cash withdrawals of £600 a month prior to the defendant’s involvement. When she took over the card, the withdrawals steadily increased to £1,700 in July 2018 to £3,900 in January 2019. It peaked to £7,060 in March 2019.
Review of the defendant’s bank accounts revealed she spent most of the money on gambling, largely between July 2018 and December 2020.
The victim believes the defendant repaid him no more than £250 and said it got to the point he felt like he couldn’t say no.
The carer was dismissed from Bluebird Care under suspicion of stealing money from another patient and the victim too reported her. In interview she said she had borrowed only £9,000 from the complainant and expressed surprise the figure was more than £46,000.
In a victim impact statement the veteran said: “My mental health has been extremely affected by the incident. I recently attempted to take my own life due to my financial situation. It’s caused me so much stress and anger.”
The court also heard due to the stress of the court case, the victim, from Richmond, North Yorkshire, suffered a mini stroke and a heart attack and has been left in financial ruin.
In mitigation, Brian Russell said the defendant has two teenage children and a prison sentence would have a significant impact of them. He also said she is of previous good character and has admitted the offending.
Following sentencing, PC Michael McVay, who led the case for North Yorkshire Police, said: “This was a sickening abuse of trust in which Squire simply helped herself to very significant sums of money. Even when she was confronted with the evidence, she seemed unremorseful and denied she’d done anything wrong.
“But a thorough investigation involving skilled financial specialists proved what she’d been doing, and we were able to bring Squire to justice. The manipulative way she committed this crime was awful. Offences like this can have a truly devastating impact on victims, whose so-called friend is actually there to exploit their vulnerability.
“I’d urge anyone who thinks they may have been the victim of this type of offence to contact us by calling North Yorkshire Police on 101.
“Support is available and we guarantee your concerns will be taken seriously.”