'Vile violation of trust' - son hits out after carer stole £1,700 from mum

Avocet Court care home exterior, Paul Dennant inset

Mr Paul Dennant said his mother stayed at Avocet Court for six weeks between December 2020 and February 2021 - Credit: Charlotte Bond/Paul Dennant

The son of a vulnerable 80-year-old woman whose bank card was used by a carer to buy flowers, clothes and takeaways has called it a "vile violation of trust". 

Paul Dennant spoke of his disappointment following the sentencing of Sinead Burnett, 29, who admitted one count of fraud by false representation at Suffolk Magistrates Court on Tuesday. 

The carer was given a suspended prison sentence, which Mr Dennant said felt like a "slap on the wrist". 

His mother Penelope Watts was discharged to Avocet Court care home in December 2020 after a spell in Ipswich Hospital. 

During her six-week stay, she was cared for by Burnett, who "at some point gained access to Mrs Watts' credit and debit cards" and proceeded to use the bank cards for transactions totalling £1,741.65. 

Avocet Court's owners Athena Care Homes did not respond when approached by this paper for comment. 

In a statement read out in court, Mr Dennant said Burnettbought a variety of things for herself such as flowers, clothes, takeaways and taxi rides. 

Avocet Care Home Ipswich Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Avocet Care Home Ipswich Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

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The victim impact statement said: "My mother is extremely vulnerable and has suffered for many years with multiple sclerosis.  

"In recent years she's been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and vascular dementia and at the time was having repeated falls that necessitated frequent visits and stays in hospital. 

"At the time she had acute cataracts meaning she had great difficulty seeing clearly and furthermore while staying at Avocet Court she became Covid positive.

Paul Dennant has said he's disappointed with the sentence of the woman who committed fraud

Paul Dennant, son of Penelope Watts, a victim of fraud by a carer at Avocet Court care home - Credit: Paul Dennant

"This crime is a vile violation of trust committed by someone not only entrusted with caring for my mother, but also in a supervisory position in the care home.

"It was committed at a really bad time in her life when her health was failing and hard decisions had to be made, like could she continue to live in her own home or need to move into residential care. 

"The added anxiety and stress must have added to her deterioration. 

"She spent several months unable to access cash from her account when these bank cards were stopped and this added an extra layer of upset, anguish and anxiety."

Burnett engaged with police from Suffolk's Op Converter team, which encourages criminals to admit additional crimes, and confessed to two further offences that took place in early 2021 at the same care home. 

During this time, about £1,700 was fraudulently obtained by Burnett.

Burnett was also given 20 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days with probation services and ordered to pay compensation of £4,104.31 and costs of £145.