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Care home thief jailed.


A care home administration manager who stole £34,000 from an elderly resident with Alzheimer’s to spend on luxuries has been jailed.

Mother-of-two Sarah Hargrave, 34, used money she stole from  David Litherland, 73, who was confined to a wheelchair, to buy a Mini Cooper car, a designer handbag, a holiday and a tortoise. 

Her job gave her access to Mr Litherland’s bankcard and PIN number and the theft was discovered when his bank pointed out that he was overdrawn, a court heard. 

Only a handful of people had access to the account, including Hargrave, who worked at Anbridge care home, Oldham, Greater Manchester. 

She immediately came under suspicion when she arrived at work in a new car. Hargrave initially claimed the secondhand vehicle, which cost her £4,500, was a gift from her estranged husband but confessed when questioned by her employer. 

Prosecutor, Hayley Bennett, said that care home managers discovered that Mr Litherland’s “healthy” bank account was overdrawn when Hargrave went on holiday.

When police raided her home, they discovered she had paid off a loan for her mother and found several receipts for items, including the handbag. 

Miss Bennett told Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court: “At first the defendant said she couldn’t explain the transactions but then admitted that they were by her. 

“She said she was sorry and that she hadn’t kept a check on what she was spending, then entered a not guilty plea, blaming her estranged husband. She then pleaded guilty on the day of her trial. She has two children and is now conveniently pregnant once again.”

Hargrave, from Royton, admitted fraudulently obtaining £34,295. 

In mitigation, Jonathan Turner, said: “This offence was not sophisticated, it was simply taking a card for which a PIN number lay next to it.” 

He said Hargreave had initially co-operated with the investigation and now wanted to repay the money. The only way she could do that was to be allowed to work.

But Judge Timothy Mort jailed her for 12 months, saying: “You realised it was quite likely that you could take money from his account and people would not find out – he certainly would not find out because you knew how far gone he was with his memory.” 

It is expected  that Hargrave will serve half the term and give birth out of prison.