A care home employee who had stolen more than £25,000 from an elderly resident’s account threatened to set himself on fire when he turned up at a police station to confess.
Warwick Crown Court heard that Kieran Dunphy, who had stolen the money to fund his gambling addiction, doused himself in a flammable liquid before arriving at the police station.
Dunphy (29) of Bury Road, Leamington, who pleaded guilty to the theft, was jailed for 16 months after the judge rejected a submission that the sentence could be suspended.
Prosecutor Ian Windridge said that Dunphy worked at a care home in Warwick where his victim and her father were both residents, and he was one of her carers.
“A point came when there was a problem with her bank account, when a payment that was due could not be made due to a lack of funds.”
Mr Windridge said that residents’ bank cards were kept in an office, and at various times staff members had to assist residents with making transactions.
When staff began to check where the money had gone, they found that a large number of withdrawals had been made over a period of nine months from a number of regular locations.
They included the McColls convenience store in Spinney Hill, the Tesco store in Warwick and a petrol station in Hinckley.
And Mr Windridge pointed out: “[The victim] was bedbound, so it was highly unlikely she would be the person going to the cash machines.
“When it was made clear to the defendant that he was being suspended, he took that fairly badly and presented himself at Leamington police station, having covered himself in a flammable liquid.
“He said he was going to set himself on fire, saying: ‘I have done something terrible. I’ve robbed someone and stolen from them.’”
Dunphy was detained under the Mental Health Act and taken to a psychiatric unit, but was soon discharged.
When he was then interviewed Dunphy, who had no previous convictions, made a full admission, and explained that he had a gambling addiction.
Mr Windridge added that it was initially believed Dunphy had stolen around £41,000 – but the actual figure was £25,683.
Nick Devine, defending, said: “He was a man of entirely good character prior to this, and he made full admissions from the outset. He has a very deep-seated sense of remorse.
“He has addressed his gambling problems, and there is strong personal mitigation set out in the pre-sentence report, which I do not need to repeat in open court.
“I do accept it passes the custody threshold, but my submission is that you can quite properly suspend the sentence.”
But jailing Dunphy, Recorder Eugene Egan told him: “You plainly had a gambling problem, and you stole money from [the woman] who was a resident in a care home where you worked.
“The money was her inheritance, and she has suffered some financial hardship as a result.
“You took money from her account over a protracted period of nine months. There was a gross breach of trust.
“In fairness, when matters came to light you handed yourself in to the police in somewhat extraordinary circumstances.
“It is obvious the mental anguish you suffered on these offences coming to light has caused you to change your ways significantly and to change your life.
“I have to consider whether I can suspend the sentence, but I am afraid I cannot do so, as adequate punishment can only be applied here by immediate custody.
“You repeatedly took money from this woman. You knew it was wrong, but you went on and on and on.”