'Despicable' carer stole from vulnerable residents during covid pandemic

A social carer taken on during the pandemic stole hundreds of pounds from vulnerable victims while working a trial period in a profession she knew she was banned from.

Wednesday, 28th October 2020, 5:04 pm
The case was heard at Newcastle Crown Court.

Rumana Khatun was barred from being a carer for life as a result theft allegations, totalling over £500, made against her at two places of employment.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Khatun was never convicted and the allegations never proved but the Disclosure and Barring Service banned her from care work indefinitely in April 2019.

Despite the ban, which she could have applied to have lifted after five years, Khatun was taken on by Comfort Call during the pandemic, as a Covid-19 social carer, on a trial basis, in June.

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Within days, the "despicable" 23-year-old had pocketed £480 from the purses and wallets of vulnerable residents of Campbell Court sheltered accommodation in Hebburn, South Tyneside.

A judge has told Khatun she "targeted the most vulnerable in society at a particularly difficult time for the entire country" and sent her to prison.

Prosecutor Claire Anderson told the court: "She was at Campbell Court sheltered accommodation between the sixth and eighth of June.

"During that time she stole money from three of the residents."

The court heard Khatun carried out the thefts while the experienced carers she was shadowing were distracted by caring for their clients.

The police were drafted in when the residents reported a total loss of £480.

Miss Anderson said police confronted Khatun at her home and added: "Officers found a receipt for a deposit of £480 cash into the defendant's TSB account."

Khatun admitted she took the cash because she was "desperate for money and had no food, gas or electric".

The court heard the residents who had their cash taken said they have always trusted and relied on their carers and have been left hurt and upset by what happened.

One victim said they felt they were an "easy target" and added: "If they needed money all they had to do was ask and I would have given them it."

Khatun, of Penrith Road, Hebburn, admitted engaging in regulated activity from which she was barred and three offences of theft.

Judge Robert Adams sentenced her to six months behind bars and said: "This was despicable."

Judge Adams added: "You say you were falsely accused of stealing earlier, which led to the DBS barring.

"Strangely, that order was put in place to prevent precisely what, in the end, happened."

The judge told her: "You must have been aware their needs were as great as yours, if not greater, nonetheless, you stole from them.

"It must have been obvious to you how vulnerable they were.

"You targeted the most vulnerable in society at a particularly difficult time for the entire country.

"These are mean offences."

Judge Adams said Khatun would likely be capable of rehabilitation in the community but he added: "I have to take into account the public interest, the protection of those who are vulnerable in society from being targeted by people like you."

Robin Turton, defending, said Khatun had a deeply troubled childhood and left school without qualifications but he added: "Most members of the public, I recognise, would recoil at the prospect of vulnerable members of the community being stolen from in such circumstances."

Mr Turton said Khatun had qualifications to work as a carer but nothing else and added: "It was the only job she could do. It was a lack of options rather than a plan to prey on the vulnerable that was her motivation."

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