A Lambeth social worker drained the bank account of a vulnerable client with mental health problems of £21,500 to finance a drink and drugs binge.
Graduate Aimee James, 36, was a court-appointed deputy responsible for the finances of a man under the care of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.
As a care co-ordinator James, of Meadow Close, Catford was granted power by the Court of Protection over the bank account of hostel resident Jesse Williams.
She pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud and received 18 months imprisonment, suspended for two years and must complete 150 hours community service ad pay £1,000 costs.
James remained suspended on full-pay during the investigation and used those wages to almost fully compensate Lambeth and has six months to return the remaining £2,800.
Inner London Crown Court heard she withdrew £18,000 cash at ATM’s and used Mr. Williams’ bank card to pay over £3,000 in Uber taxi fares and other expenditures.
She had begun repaying the money before her arrest on February 7 and told police her salary was insufficient to fund her alcohol and cocaine use.
“The account was effectively cleaned out,” said prosecutor Mr. Ronnie Bergenthal. “All the spending had been by her for her own benefit.”
James’ lawyer Miss Beth O’Reilly told the court: “She’s lost everything. Her addiction has destroyed her life.
“She’s so deeply ashamed of her actions and the impact it has had on her family and her marriage.
“This woman would be destroyed by a prison sentence and it is unlikely she will be able to be employed by a social worker again.”
Recorder Sir Geoffrey Nice QC announced: “This is a modern twenty-first century tragedy of a kind society should not be allowing.
“The offence you committed was serious. The person whose money you misused was dependent on you and vulnerable and you find yourself in a position of utter shame due to a vulnerability to drugs.
“You have clearly taken every step you can to deal with the addiction that led to your undoing.”