A former Bury nurse raided the accounts of elderly women living at her old folks home – including a 94-year-old – after claiming she was ‘excessively’ using her electric heater to keep warm.
Mary Galvin, 67, stole thousands of pounds from two victims whilst running the 16-bed Lyndon Residential Care Home, in the village of Tottington, near Bury, after believing she was not charging enough in care fees.
She took £3,500 from one of the women’s bank account from November 2011 to October 2012, without informing her.
In addition, she ‘unilaterally’ decided to take cheques of £1,000, £1,500, and £500 from the account of the other woman, aged 94 from February to November 2012.
She took another £1,000 because the OAP was a single resident – but often slept in a double room. Galvin said she also took a further £1,000 because she had been told she was undercharging residents.
At Bolton Crown Court Galvin, Whitefield, pleaded guilty to theft but escaped jail after a judge was told she had paid back the money in full. The court heard Galvin and her husband bought the care home in 1997, after she had spent 30 years working as a nurse.
But Hugh Edwards, prosecuting, said Galvin had carried out the thefts after being given access to the residents’ bank accounts in order to take their fees. He said the amounts taken were “over and above what she was allowed to withdraw”.
Defending, Mr Philip Parry said problems began in 2011, when nine deaths were registered at the home, meaning a loss of income and financial difficulties. The home was eventually sold last January, after a police investigation into the thefts.
The court heard that Galvin was suffering mental health problems, following her son taking his own life in August 2012, and her daughter battling alcoholism. Mr Parry said his client had paid back the money back in full to the two estates of the victims.
He added that the defendant was of fragile mentality and needs to see a psychiatrist.
He told the court that it was her intention to return to her native Ireland after the court case.
Mr Parry said: “Mrs Galvin use and misuse of bank accounts of two complainants was initially permitted. It wasn’t a case where she helped herself to the money.
”The basis of the plea and the prosecution accepted, there was a time when both residents paid fees by cheque.” But he added that there came a time when they didn’t and Galvin was allowed to take the money.
“There was an agreement that allowed her to take the money for the accounts to the sum of the fees. The dishonesty accumulated over a year, the taking of money went beyond what she was permitted to take in lieu.”
Galvin was given 20 months jail suspended for two years. She must also complete 100 hours unpaid work and pay £60 costs and a statutory victim surcharge of £100.
Judge Timothy Stead told her: “I seriously hope that this is the last time you stand in the dock. What you did in stealing money from vulnerable persons in your care, you knew well to be wrong. As far as the courts are concerned the theft breached a high degree of trust.
”You are 67 years of age you have no other matter recorded against you and you have been far from well. You have had other suffering nothing to do with this case.
“In all circumstances I’m quite satisfied it would not be just to pass an immediate custodial sentence.”
But after the case Labour Councillor Simon Carter who represents the Tottington ward said: “I can’t see how anybody should descend the conduct of running a care home like that and acting like that.
“You have to build a business model and you have to predict the unpredictable, if there is a loss of income you don’t start nicking money of residents you go to the bank.
“It’s reprehensible. She was exploiting people who were clearly vulnerable. I imagine from what I read about social care it’s not cheap. It’s a serious breach of trust – you can’t put a gloss on it – you can’t tell it in any other way. I’m sorry it came to that but nobody made her do it.”
Story via Cavendish Press.
Image courtesy of Luke Hayfield, with thanks.