Former care home boss stole £24k from vulnerable resident

Luke Elfleet left a man with a broken jaw after stamping on him

Norwich Crown Court - Credit: Archant

A former care home manger stole more than £24,000 from a resident over five years to help pay for his gambling, a court has heard.

Robert Harbord, 48, had worked as a manager at Heath Farm House care home in Little Plumstead when he took between £18,000 and £24,000 from a resident at the home "who had no mental capacity whatsoever".

Norwich Crown Court heard the money had been taken by Harbord between November 2014 and November 2019 but was only discovered after Harbord was dismissed for gross misconduct in relation to another matter.

Duncan O'Donnell, prosecuting, said following his departure a review was conducted by Swanton Care and Community Ltd, which ran the care home, during which the fraud was discovered.

He said Harbord had taken the debit card of one of the residents at the care home, who had no knowledge of him having the card and was vulnerable.

It was discovered more than £24,800 had been taken from the resident's account.

Mr O' Donnell said Harbord had a gambling habit which some of the money was spent on.

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Harbord, from Desmond Drive, Old Catton, appeared in court for sentence on Monday, March 15 having previously admitted fraud.

Jailing Harbord for 20 months, Judge Andrew Shaw said: "It's a substantial amount of money stolen over a sustained period of time from an extremely vulnerable person."

Judge Shaw said that those working with vulnerable people must understand that stealing their money will "almost always result in immediate detention to discourage others from stealing from these most vulnerable people".

Andrew Oliver, mitigating, conceded the custody threshold had been crossed and accepted the victim was vulnerable.

He said Harbord “knew he’s breached trust in a very gross way and he’s extremely sorry for that which he has done”.

He said he has expressed sincere remorse and apologises for his dishonest behaviour.

Mr Oliver said the money taken was not spent on luxuries but on general living and gambling.

He said Harbord hoped to repay what he had taken.

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