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Thief carer ordered to pay back just £1 after stealing £16K

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: September 05, 2012

  • Maureen Blackwell

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A CARER who stole about £16,500 from a wheelchair-bound cerebral palsy victim will have to pay back just one pound.

The prosecution at Gloucester Crown Court accepted that Maureen Blackwell, 58, had no assets available for confiscation under the Process of Crime Act, despite the scale of her theft from 64-year-old Margaret Russell.

Judge Jamie Tabor QC formally certified that Blackwell had benefited from crime to the tune of £15,775.40.

He certified that she had no assets and he made a nominal £1 confiscation order, warning her that if she came into funds in the future they would be taken from her.

At her trial in May, Blackwell had denied 13 charges of defrauding Miss Russell, who has learning difficulties and lives in sheltered accommodation in Tewkesbury.

But the jury convicted her of all but one of the charges and in June she was sentenced to 30 months jail by Recorder Stephen Hall QC who said it was "an extremely serious breach of trust." He said her crimes had not only hit her victim but had also put carer colleagues under suspicion until her guilt was established.

Blackwell worked for the care agency Nursing Alliance and helped to look after Ms Russell at Marina Court, a sheltered housing complex run by the Hanover Housing Association.

She was one of a number of carers who worked 24 hours, seven days a week at the victim's home and in time she became her main carer.

Illicit withdrawals from Ms Russell's account always took place on days when Blackwell was working.

And some were made at a Tesco cash machine in Dursley, close to Blackwell's then home before she moved to Tewkesbury.

Her solicitor Jason Coulter told the court after her conviction that Blackwell's offences demonstrated the need for "rather more stringent procedures" to be put in place to safeguard the money of service users like Ms Russell.

"This trial has revealed a rather sordid, dishonest and unpleasant picture and hopefully lessons have been learned from this debacle about how better to do things in the future," he said.

No information was given in court as to why Blackwell had no funds.

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  • Bonkim2003  |  September 06 2012, 10:36PM

    I suppose she will have time to contemplate her misdeed when she is in a care home herself and someone is stealing her smoking allowance.

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  • uselesswonder  |  September 06 2012, 7:44PM

    Hmmm, no assets and a £1 payback is all she can afford......However there seems to be money for her fags. Honestly this is nothing but a bad joke....! And no-one but the slimeball herself is laughing.

    |   3
  • bull007  |  September 05 2012, 11:21PM

    Having been a client of Nursing Alliance myself I can't say I'm surprised it happened under their watch.

    |   1
  • bull007  |  September 05 2012, 11:19PM

    Having been a client of Nursing Alliance myself I can't say I'm surprised it happened under their watch.

    |   2
  • thomas1996  |  September 05 2012, 10:10PM

    probably got a DWP 'emergency payment' blagged it was for a new mattress or a secondhand oven but really it was for fags, scratch cards and the Sky subscription.

    |   5
  • chr1582  |  September 05 2012, 9:58PM

    she had enough left to buy cigarettes!

    |   5
  • bonzaharris1  |  September 05 2012, 8:24PM

    LewBrush, no not yet .... be patient !!

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  • LewBrush  |  September 05 2012, 8:13PM

    Is there nobody prepared to argue this lady's case. Is there nobody to say ' u no nothin n u keyboard warriors shud mind ur own bismess.' Poor woman - with a few quid stashed away somewhere.

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  • bonzaharris1  |  September 05 2012, 6:42PM

    When she is released from prison, which going by present form will be in about 3 months, she will doubtless go straight onto benefits. Perhaps they can deduct at least £20 a week from her benefits. She would still have enough to exist on, just be deducting her "smoking allowance".

    |   8
  • brownmate  |  September 05 2012, 6:30PM

    Can't she have her benefits stopped unless she does hard work and then a percentage of her benefits go back to the victim?

    |   7