Care home thief spared jail term

THE FORMER manager of a Suffolk care home who stole money from a resident has been spared an immediate prison sentence.

Jane Hunt

THE FORMER manager of a Suffolk care home who stole money from a resident has been spared an immediate prison sentence.

Joanne Woodhead, who was employed at the Barleycombe Home in Long Melford, pocketed �6,000 belonging to a “vulnerable” male resident after falling into debt.

In July last year Woodhead, 38, of Shop Street, Woodbridge, pleaded guilty to four offences of theft and sentence was deferred for six months to give her a chance to repay the stolen money.


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On that occasion Ipswich Crown Court judge Neil McKittrick told Woodhead that if she repaid �2,000 and made six monthly payments of �250 he would pass a suspended prison sentence on her.

However, if she failed to comply with the repayment schedule there was a chance she could be sent to prison immediately.

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When Woodhead returned to court for sentence yesterday, prosecution counsel Peter Gair said she had complied with the court order and the outstanding balance had been reduced to �2,500.

Sentencing her to a 36 week jail term suspended for 12 months and ordering her to do 150 hours unpaid work in the community, Judge McKittrick said that if she breached the court orders she could be sent to prison.

He ordered her to repay the outstanding �2,500 at the rate of �250 a month.

The court had heard that at the time of the thefts Woodhead was heavily in debt.

After she was suspended from her job in September 2007 a full audit was carried out during which it was noted that a resident's personal allowance record had been removed.

This was subsequently found in Woodhead's handbag after her arrest.

Andrew Shaw, for Woodhead, said that since leaving Barleycombe she had got another job as a restaurant manager but had lost this after employees from her previous job turned up and caused a scene.

She now had two jobs and was working 60 hours a week and had debts of �44,000.

Barleycombe Home declined to comment after the hearing.

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