27th Sep, 2020

Heartless Coventry council carer ordered to pay back £26k stolen from vulnerable victim

Editorial Correspondent 29th Jul, 2020 Updated: 29th Jul, 2020

A DISGRACED carer who heartlessly fleeced a vulnerable Coventry man has been ordered to stump up every penny of the £25,915 she stole – or face two-and-a-half years in prison.

Callous Deborah Gomm had supplemented her £29,000 salary by using her victim’s bank card to withdraw cash and for online purchases over a period of three-and-a-half years.

But despite the betrayal of trust placed in her as a carer, Gomm (51) who has since moved to Fordway Avenue, Blackpool, had escaped being jailed when she appeared at Warwick Crown Court.

She was sentenced in November last year to two years in prison suspended for two years, with a 7pm-7am curfew for six months, and was ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work.

But on that occasion a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act was adjourned for an investigation into her finances.

At the resumed hearing, prosecutor Amrisha Parathalingam said Gomm’s benefit from her offending was a total of £25,915.28 – and she had assets in excess of that amount.

So Judge Andrew Lockhart QC ordered the full sum to be confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act, with Gomm facing two-and-a-half years in jail if it is not paid within three months.

He also ordered her to pay £360 costs within 28 days.

At the original hearing Miss Parathalingam said Gomm’s victim had a number of health issues and had lived in supported accommodation in Jackers Road, Coventry, since 2012.

There was a care plan, and Gomm, a senior support worker with Coventry City Council, was responsible for his welfare.

She was well aware she was not allowed to take cash from ATMs or to carry out any other transactions using his bank card without another member of staff being present.

But in June 2017, while she was on holiday, another support worker found the man’s bank card lying around.

When she asked him about it he said that Gomm handled all his money, and he was unaware of what benefits he received, so it was decided to work out a proper budget plan for him.

But the following day, while he was undergoing dialysis at hospital, the man, who has since died, made comments which led to the Safeguarding Team being contacted.

When Gomm was questioned, she said she had taken his card home with her to do some online food shopping for him, based on a list he had given her.

But none of that activity had been recorded, and when a statement was obtained from his bank it showed a number of online purchases he knew nothing about.

Gomm admitted to the police that she had been using the bank card for some three years without his knowledge, and that she had set up online banking with a password only she knew.

In that time she had taken a total of £25,609 from his account either in cash withdrawals or to pay for purchases from Amazon, Argos, I-tunes, HMV, Debenhams and other outlets.

She said she did not know how many times she had used it, but that it had started after her son was diagnosed with autism.

Sophie Murray, defending, conceded: “There is very little mitigation other than her confession to the police and her plea.

“But there is very strong personal mitigation with regard to her family circumstances.

Miss Murray said Gomm’s son, who hardly speaks, had slept in Gomm’s bed ‘almost since he was born,’ adding: “One can only imagine the impact of not having his mother in his life for 18 months or so.”

Sentencing Gomm, Judge Lockhart had told her: “A society is judged on how it keeps the most vulnerable in its care.

“This type of offending strikes at the very heart of public trust in the caring industry.

“You deliberately targeted this vulnerable person. For three-and-a-half years you supplemented your income of £29,000 a year with another £25,000 of his money.

And he told her it was only for the sake of her son that he was not passing an immediate sentence.

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