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Carer jailed for stealing 31,000 from vulnerable woman she was looking after
Denise Kiff, 40, used Maureen baker's debit card over four years
Bought takeaways, jewellery and clothes and took out 5,000 bank loan
Jailed for 16 months after judge slams 'shocking' breach of trust
13:27 GMT, 15 December 2012
Breach of trust: Carer Denise Kiff stole more than 31,000 from elderly Maureen Baker who has the mental age of a five-year-old over the period of four years
A carer who repeatedly stole from her vulnerable patient to fund her own lifestyle has been jailed.
Denise Kiff, 40, took cash from Maureen Baker who is severely mentally disabled over the course of four years.
Kiff, who worked for mental health charity Mencap, used Miss Baker’s debit card to withdraw money as well as to buy Chinese takeaways and clothes, and even took out a bank loan in her name.
Oxford Crown Court heard how she stole a total of 31,217.71 from vulnerable Miss Baker,
who is aged in her 60s, but has the mental function of a five-year-old
child and lives in sheltered accommodation.
The sum included the 5,000 loan Santander Bank is still insisting that Miss Baker pays back, the court heard.
Kiff, who admitted 19 counts of fraud last month, was jailed yesterday for 16 months after Judge Ian Pringle told her that she carried out a 'shocking' breach of trust.
Wendy Hewitt, prosecuting, said Kiff had worked as Miss Baker’s sole support
worker for many years and had been employed by Mencap since 1998 when
the charity took over the company she worked for.
'The course of offending involved the use of debit cards to make transactions, to make withdrawals and in count one posing as Miss Baker to obtain a loan for 5,000,' she said.
Ms Hewitt said that Kiff had been using Miss Baker’s debit cards from as far back as April 2007, until March 2011 when she ceased working with her after taking indefinite leave, and later sick leave.
Between December 2009 and March 2011 she made 14 cash withdrawals, taking money from banks in and around Banbury, Oxfordshire, as well as two failed attempts to extract 50 while in Weymouth, Dorset.
She also used the same card to buy goods from a jewellers, a petrol station and from a branch of clothing store Monsoon.
The fraud came to light when her stand-in noticed that Miss Baker’s bank account was overdrawn by 150 and Miss Baker did not know why.
Jailed: Denise Kiff, 40, was sent to prison for 16 months after admitting stealing more than 31,000 from the vulnerable woman she was supposed to be caring for
'Denise Kiff was employed as Miss Baker’s sole support worker, responsible in every respect for not only her money but her cooking, cleaning and hygiene,' said Ms Hewitt.
'It has to fall within a severe breach of trust given her advanced years and her mental age.
'Denise Kiff had been employed for many years to care for her and this happened in Miss Baker’s own home.'
Jane Brady, defending, said that Kiff had taken the money because she was in financial difficulty, and had wanted to help her recently widowed father.
She told the course that Kiff and Miss Baker had been extremely close, and that Kiff regretted her actions.
'She took money from Miss Baker with a desire to improve other people’s lives not her own,' said Miss Brady.
'She accepts that spiralled out of control.'
Miss Brady told the court that Kiff, of St Leonard’s Close, Banbury, was suffering from a degenerative spinal condition, which meant that she could only walk with the help of crutches.
She also suffered from type two diabetes, asthma and mental health problems, and has to take nine different medications daily.
The court was told that Kiff had no previous convictions save for a police caution after a football was kicked over her fence and she refused to return it.
Judge Pringle told brunette Kiff, who wore a pair of sunglasses on top of her head and an anorak as she stood in the dock that he had no option but to sentence her to immediate imprisonment.
'You feel deep and genuine remorse for what you did but I would be failing in my duty if I were not to send you straight to prison,' he said. 'That is what I’m going to do. What you did over a period of nearly four years to this lady, Maureen Baker, will shock almost everybody.
'Of all the people who needed help and protection she was one of them and that’s why you were there, to assist.
'Your position was one of trust, it’s difficult to put someone in a greater amount of trust and you breached it regularly – you broke it 19 times on this indictment – and you took more than 31,000 from that lady’s bank account.'
Judge Pringle sentenced her to 16 months in prison which was reduced because of her early guilty plea and medical conditions.