Carer who stole £5000 jailed

A carer who stole more than £5,000 from a vulnerable pensioner in Norfolk was yesterday jailed for 40 weeks.Dawn Osbourne, 37, system-atically stole cash from the bank account of 67-year-old Michael Blackburn who had learning difficulties and was unable to manage his own financial affairs, Norwich Crown Court heard.

A carer who stole more than £5,000 from a vulnerable pensioner in Norfolk was yesterday jailed for 40 weeks.

Dawn Osbourne, 37, system-atically stole cash from the bank account of 67-year-old Michael Blackburn who had learning difficulties and was unable to manage his own financial affairs, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Osbourne had the pin number of his bank account so she could draw money to buy his shopping, but instead she siphoned £5,674 from his account over a period of months, the court was told.

The offences came to light when Mr Blackburn himself realised something was wrong and Osbourne was arrested.

Mother of three Osbourne, of Cedar Avenue, Spixworth, denied the theft but following a trial was convicted of nine counts.

Yesterday, she appeared for sentence. Jailing her, Recorder Richard Wood said Mr Blackburn was a vulnerable individual.

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He added: “He was wholly unable to look after his own finances and he needed someone like you to go to the bank to obtain cash for him and do his shopping. The position required someone of the utmost honesty and integrity.”

However, he said, by the spring of 2005 Osbourne had “rifled” through his bank account, taking more than £5,000.

“Even for a person of limited ability he realised that all was not right and made allegations against you concerning his accounts,” added the recorder.

He said the matter took some time to investigate as Osbourne never confessed.

“You required him to come to court and give evidence through a video link to prove to the jury what you did. His particular learning difficulty was self-evident to everyone and you, through your counsel, sought to use this disadvantage to cast doubt on the wrong you had done.”

He said she had acted in a grossly dishonest way and added: “Your character is destroyed, ruined and disgraced by what you have done.”

He jailed her for 40 weeks and ordered her to pay back the £5,674, which she had saved up to pay back the stolen cash.

She was also ordered to pay £2,000 towards prosecution costs.

The recorder said the sentence was necessary to deter others in similar employment to Osbourne dealing with vulnerable clients.

Angus Gloag, mitigating, said Osbourne was frightened about going to prison.

He said the money was going to be repaid and said it was an unsophisticated offence.

After the case, Det Sgt Paul Claxton, from the force's adult protection unit, who led the investigation, said: “This was an appalling abuse of trust. Dawn Osborne took advantage of Mr Blackburn, a vulnerable adult who relied on her for care. She abused her position by stealing his money. I am satisfied the courts have acknowledged this crime and punished her appropriately.

“I would urge members of the public who have concerns about anyone who may be taking advantage of a vulnerable adult to contact the police or the social services. We take these complaints very seriously and work in partnership with our colleagues from Norfolk Social Services in a specialist unit to safeguard the rights of vulnerable adults.”

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