Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Denise Nichols: Sheffield care home manager jailed for fraud

A care home deputy manager who defrauded residents out of almost £15,000 has been jailed for two years.

Denise Nichols, 55, of Kiveton Lane, Rotherham, took the money from the bank accounts of 23 residents at Wensley Street Care Home, in Sheffield, from 2008 till 2013.

Nichols withdrew the money and created false records to cover her tracks.

The fraud was uncovered after an audit in September. Nichols was jailed at Sheffield Crown Court.

Judge Peter Kelson QC said: "The real mischief of what you have done is your gross breach of trust.

"The system relies upon honesty on the part of people in your position and, for five years and eight months, you were dishonest."

'Flagrant abuse of trust'

Nichols pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by abuse of position at Sheffield Magistrates' Court in January.

Defence counsel Andrew Swaby said his client had "no real explanation" for the fraud, but had been going through an "extremely difficult time".

The court heard Nichols' husband had repaid the stolen money.

Wensley Street Care Home, which is owned by South Yorkshire Housing Association, provides care and accommodation for up to 30 people with learning disabilities, according to the latest Care Quality Commission report.

Det Con Jenny Elsley, of South Yorkshire Police, said the fraud was "a calculated and sustained crime".

She said: "This was a flagrant abuse of trust. Nichols was in a position where she had access to the bank accounts of vulnerable residents and these people were oblivious to the fact they were being duped."

Kevan Taylor, chief executive of Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, which provides staff to the care home, said the case had been "upsetting" for those affected.

He said: "In light of our investigation findings, the trust has made immediate changes to financial procedures, to ensure, as far as possible, that appropriate controls are in place to prevent any recurrence."

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