Axminster carer tried to steal hundreds from dementia patient, court hears
PUBLISHED: 13:48 23 July 2019
A carer who used an 84-year-old dementia patient's cheque to try to pay off his rent arrears has avoided jail time.
Andrew Nichols stole the cheque from the client's home in Axminster and made a bungled attempt to forge a signature which was spotted by the bank.
The cheque was made out for £846.68 and Nichols tried submitting it again with the higher figure of £868.58 when it was rejected for the first time.
A judge at Exeter Crown Court warned employers against giving Nichols a job that involves handling money. The court heard the defendant had a previous conviction for stealing from a shop which he was managing.
Nichols, aged 55, of Castle Hill, Axminster, admitted theft by an employee and fraud and was jailed for 30 weeks, suspended for 18 months and ordered to do 100 hours unpaid community work and 15 days of rehabilitation activities.
Mr Herc Ashworth, defending, said it was a very unsophisticated attempt which was doomed to fail. Nichols was £19,000 in debt and desperate for money to pay his rent because he feared eviction.
He said he is now working as an oven cleaner while helping to look after his 80-year-old mother from Tiverton.
Judge Peter Johnson said: "There was a fairly amateurish attempt to forge the signature. This was a shabby and mean offence which mercifully did not result in any loss the victim.
"You should not be employed in any similar capacity in the future. Your two convictions should be a red flag to anyone considering employing you in a position of trust."
Miss Christine Hart, prosecuting, said Nichols was employed by an agency in Honiton last summer and was working pending a criminal records bureau check.
He stole a cheque from an elderly client in December last year and made two attempts to present it. It was rejected first because the written amount did not accord with the numerals and the second because the signature was an illegible squiggle.
She said Nichols has a previous conviction from 2011 for stealing from a previous employer.