A nurse robbed thousands of people with dementia as she lay in her hospital bed

Nurse Dorothy Howell lost her career after stealing a dementia patient’s bank card, Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court has heard. The 57-year-old was working as a care aide at Royal Stoke when she swiped the card and used it to withdraw £3,000.

The court also heard from a relative of the victim – a vulnerable 84-year-old woman who had been admitted following a fall – who found a series of removals had been made while she was being treated in the ward 225.

According to StokeonTrent Live, the police and the bank were contacted and an investigation revealed that the accused made 12 withdrawals of £250 from an ATM in Birches Head. Each transaction cost £1.99, meaning the total value of the fraud was £3,023.88.

Now mum-of-two and grandmother-of-four Howell – who has since been discharged by the hospital – was given a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

Prosecutor Ryan Hodgins said the defendant committed the fraud between November 10, 2020 and December 8, 2020. He said: “The defendant used an elderly patient’s Halifax bank card to withdraw cash from money. In total she withdrew £3,000 in 12 transactions from an ATM on Birches Head Road. Each transaction resulted in a transaction cost of £1.99 and the total fraud was £3,023.88 .

Mr Hodgins said the victim was taken to Ward 225 of Royal Stoke during the pandemic after suffering a fall and remained there until December 8. CCTV captured the accused using the map and she was identified by the store owner who directed officers to her address.

Mr Hodgins said: ‘The accused worked as a medical professional at the Royal Stoke where the victim was admitted. She had taken the pensioner’s card and room identification number.’

Howell, of Birches Head Road, Birches Head, pleaded guilty to fraud by misrepresentation.

Rob Holt, mitigating, the defendant said, worked as a caregiver for 22 years and had an unblemished record. But she lost her job after admitting her ruthless crime.

Mr Holt said: “She has no previous convictions and has lost her good character. A conviction like this is going to make job prospects difficult. Her marriage has ended after 36 years. Her husband wants nothing to do with her.

“She took advantage of a vulnerable person she was responsible for looking after. She doesn’t really know what happened to the money. There were no luxury items. She just spent money in current expenses to supplement his income.”

Mr Holt said the victim was reimbursed. He added: “There is a prospect that the defendant will be rehabilitated in the community. She is caring for her grandchildren. There would be some impact if she were given immediate custody. There is room for a suspended sentence. She’s really remorseful.”

As part of the suspended sentence, Howell must complete a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement, a 12-month mental health treatment requirement and 100 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Graeme Smith said: “An offense like this is always an unpleasant offence. The victim was exceptionally vulnerable, suffered from dementia and was cut off from all support. This was highlighted due to Covid and the incapacity of his nephew to visit him.

“It was an opportunistic offence. You were in very dire financial straits. That doesn’t excuse what you did but it does provide an explanation. You lost your career and your marriage as a result.

“She was an extremely vulnerable woman. It’s hard to think of anyone more vulnerable than she was in these circumstances.

“I take into account the mitigation, the absence of previous convictions and the remorse you have shown. I just believe this is a sentence I should suspend. You are unlikely to find the courts again .”

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