Support worker stole hundreds of pounds from one of her clients

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A JUDGE said a support worker who stole hundreds of pounds from an alcoholic client should never again be allowed to work with vulnerable people.

Lincoln Crown Court heard on Monday how Desreen McKenzie befriended the client whilst acting as her support worker for treatment agency Addaction in Grantham.

Christopher Lowe, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that McKenzie subsequently obtained the woman’s bank card details and used the information to spend £284 purchasing items from the on-line retailer Amazon.

McKenzie also spent at Asda and at a clothing store in Grantham as well as making withdrawals from ATM machines.

The theft was discovered when the client tried to withdraw money from her account and unexpectedly found she had no cash.

Mr Lowe said: “The victim was referred to the defendant as a care worker by Addaction. She was suffering from alcohol addiction, abuse and housing problems.

“Shortly after the referral the defendant began to become increasingly friendly and persuaded the victim to hand over her banking details.

“She trusted the defendant in her capacity as a care worker and gave her information and her card details enabling the defendant to use the cash point card.

“This came to light when the victim went to the bank to withdraw £500 and to her alarm she discovered there were insufficient funds.”

Later McKenzie handed over £550 as compensation to the victim and tried to persuade her not to contact police.

But McKenzie then went on to take her client for a champagne night out in Nottingham during which all but £15 of that cash was spent. McKenzie ,41, originally from Grantham but who has recently been living at an undisclosed address in a women’s refuge outside Lincolnshire, admitted theft of £950 between 26 and 29 May 2010. She was given an 18 month community order with supervision.

Judge John Milmo QC told her “This was a nasty series of offences. In my judgement you should not be employed again by any organisation where you are dealing with vulnerable clients.”

Jonathan Eppelle, defending, said McKenzie had been under the influence of another person at the time she committed the offences and has since been living in constant fear.

He said “She appears before this court as a broken woman. Her marriage is over, her job is over and so is her career. She is unlikely to get work again in the area she has trained for and is heavily in debt.

“She has expressed remorse. She is very sorry for what she has done and accepts she has betrayed her victim.”