A husband and wife who abused their positions in a care home to steal more than £32,000 from a resident who suffered from Alzheimer’s walked free from court.
Robert Miller, 60, who was a chef at the Heaton Grange Residential Home in Bradford befriended his victim and her family before embarking upon the fraud.
His wife, Susan, who also worked at the home, later attempted to cover up her husband’s dishonesty.
He wrongly claimed to be a manager and was willing to act as an agent for the woman’s family who lived in Canada.
Miller exploited his position to arrange for £1,800-a-month payments due to be lodged into the care home’s account into his own bank.
Over the course of four years he defrauded the home out of more than £32,000 – using the cash to pay for clothes, petrol and pay for his gambling addiction.
After the woman died, her family saw problems with her financial affairs when Susan Miller offered them £3,000 in cash to keep quiet about the affair.
Michael Collins, prosecuting, said Robert Miller, from Bradford, first came into contact with the victim when she would visit her mother in the home in 2013, before becoming a resident herself.
He said: ‘In 2016, her sister made contact with Miller to make arrangements to amend the victim’s will.
‘He recommended a solicitor, and told her sister it would be difficult for her to be the executor while living in Canada, and he should act as an agent, for which she was grateful.
‘When the family visited and asked to see bank statements, Miller told them the victim just ripped them up when she got them.
‘She saw the will and when she saw Miller was an executor became concerned about her sister’s finances and Miller’s role.
‘Susan Miller told her his involvement was inappropriate as he was only the cook, and he apologised for giving this impression.
‘Susan Miller passed the victim’s family an envelope of £3,000 from the home’s safe and told them it was from the victim. The family were concerned and contacted police.
‘The money was aiming to bring uncomfortable questioning to an end.’
It was found money was withdrawn from cash machines – which the victim had never used – and payments were made at shops including Greenwoods, Marks & Spencer and Boots, and also on petrol – but the victim had never driven in her life.
The money from the victim’s account had supposed to have been paid to the care home for her care, but Miller had directed it into his own account.
Deepak Patel, the owner of the care home, said in a victim impact statement he had experienced ‘stress, sleepless nights and a loss of trust in his employees and colleagues’ as a result of the fraud, and the incident has also impacted on his and the home’s reputation.
Peter Hampton, appearing on behalf of Robert Miller, said he took full responsibility for the crimes and had stolen the money in order to fund his gambling addiction.
Oliver Jarvis, mitigating for Susan Miller, said she was ’embarrassed, ashamed and deeply sorry’ for her actions, and that the incident has led to the breakdown of their marriage.
The pair both pleaded guilty to theft of £32,276.90, and Robert Miller to defrauding the care home of £34,743.82.
In sentencing, Judge Colin Burn said the victim – who had Alzheimer’s – was vulnerable, and the Millers’ actions had damaged the reputation of Heaton Grange Care Home.
However, he said that nothing would be gained from sending either of the Millers to jail for their crimes.
He sentenced Robert Miller to two years in prison, suspended for two years, and Susan Miller to four months in jail suspended for a year.
They were both ordered to undertake rehabilitation activities, and Robert Miller to undertake 300 hours of unpaid work, and they are subject to Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings.
Judith King, head of region for Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘The mistreatment and abuse of people with dementia is always unacceptable.
‘Alzheimer’s Society is striving to create dementia friendly communities where people with dementia feel valued, included and safe.
‘We are here to offer help and advice on a wide range of dementia-related issues, including measures people can take to reduce the risk of financial abuse.’