Carer stole thousands from 94-year-old

A CARER who stole thousands of pounds from a 94-year-old bedridden widower he was meant to be safeguarding, may face jail.

Joseph Bennett should have been caring for and helping out frail pensioner Philip Coakes, of Churchill, but instead he allegedly took more than �18,000 from his account without permission over four months.

Bennett, aged 39, appeared at North Somerset Courthouse in St Georges on Tuesday charged with two counts of fraud by abuse of position.

Jane Cooper, prosecuting, said: “Mr Coakes is described as frail and his health has been deteriorating over the years.

“Bennett was entrusted with the PIN number for Mr Coakes’ card, but there was a breach of trust and there is substantial evidence that he helped himself by using the card or by writing cheques.”

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Ms Cooper said the financial details were looked at ‘with a fine toothcomb’ and that �18,145.97 was taken from the victim.

Bennett who began as a window cleaner for Mr Coakes and his late wife Hazel six years ago, pleaded guilty to acting against the financial interests of the victim, but is disputing the actual figure involved.

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As Bennett believes the amount stolen between September 2010 and January this year is more like �9,000, the case was adjourned for him to seek further legal advice. The next hearing will be held on May 17.

Charles Hart, defending, said: “He accepts everything about the transactions but feels the figures are not accurate.”

The court heard that, from about 2007, as the health of Mr Coakes, of The Drive, deteriorated, Bennett was asked to carry out full-time work such as cooking, gardening and cleaning, and was paid �300 per week.

After it was discovered that Bennett, of Tavistock Road, Worle, dishonestly withdrew �1,500, Mr Coakes agree that he could work back the funds – but when more cash was taken later, police became involved.

Speaking from the dock, Bennett said: “I do not want Mr Coakes to have to come to court at any cost. I just want this to be over and done with.”

The court’s legal clerk said Bennett could face jail and he may have to be sentenced at Bristol Crown Court due to the severity of the crime.

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