Care home deputy given suspended term for pay fraud
A FORMER deputy manager of a care home for adults with learning difficulties, who overpaid himself and three colleagues more than £8,000 has avoided jail.
James Stickland, 27, of Llanpumsaint, appeared at Swansea Crown Court to be sentenced for one fraud charge and three of false accounting after claiming extra wages — totalling £8,837.22 — from The Grange, in Lime Grove Avenue, Carmarthen. He had previously pleaded guilty at Carmarthen Magistrates' Court.
"On January 20, 2012, the manager, Stephen Harvey, was working and believed Mr Stickland was not in work, as he had not seen his vehicle," said Tom Scapens, prosecuting.
Mr Scapens told the court Mr Harvey decided to start the pay roll, but during the process, Stickland arrived and took over.
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"Later that day, Mr Harvey thought he would go back and look at pay roll," said Mr Scapens, who added that during it was then the manager uncovered extra hours and 'sleep-ins' — when staff stay at the home — that he couldn't recall Stickland had worked.
The following Monday morning, Mr Harvey checked the sheets again — which had been reverted to hours actually worked.
He then contacted the accounting department of Consensus, who own the home, to check details of the form which had been submitted to them.
Following this an investigation was launched which found Stickland had been changing the figures since August 2011.
He was interviewed and admitted that he had taken £4,292.46 for himself, as he had had financial difficulties after having to visit his girlfriend at a Cardiff hospital.
Three other employees, who have not been pursued by the courts, were also paid extra by Stickland.
Lukasz Perczak received an extra £1,025.28, Kate Meredith an extra £2,638.38 and Murray Hickey an additional £881.10.
Frank Phillips, mitigating, said his client had turned up to court with a cheque to pay back the amount taken.
Stickland was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months and must do 200 hours of unpaid work. He was ordered to pay compensation.
A spokesman for The Grange, said that while the company respected the court's decision, they were disappointed with the sentence.
"The sentence does not truly reflect the seriousness of Mr Stickland's behaviour," said a spokesman.
"Although his actions did not involve or affect the people we support in any way, they still represented a completely unacceptable breach of trust.
"The health and wellbeing of the people we support is always our top priority and we will never hesitate to act to protect their interests."