Accountant stole £180k from dead care home residents

Steven Mason
Steven Mason

A CARE home accountant is facing jail after he stole around £180,000 from the bank accounts of dead residents.

Steven Mason, 36, abused his position as an internal auditor with Four Seasons Health Care to withdraw the huge sums of cash from the personal allowance accounts of deceased residents, Teesside Crown Court heard.

He committed the fraud by withdrawing the money between September 23, 2010 and September 1, 2011.

Sue Jacobs, prosecuting, said the cost of Mason’s fraud amounted to around £180,000.

Christopher Knox, defending, said: “There is no dispute this defendant will accept he took the monies that are alleged.

“He was an accountant in a position of trust.

“He gave an explanation to the police about how he came to be in this situation and where the money went.

“He is a man of good character and is anxious to preserve the maximum credit.”

Mr Knox added some of the funds had gone from Northern Ireland and Scotland.

He asked for assurances from the prosecution that Mason would not be charged by those countries, but they said they had no control over that.

Mason, of Sea View, Easington, pleaded guilty to a single charge of fraud when he appeared at court yesterday.

He was granted unconditional bail and will be sentenced on Thursday, September 5, after probation reports have been prepared.

They will include a psychiatric report to look at addiction although it was not said in court what kind it related to.

Judge George Moorhouse said: “Before you are sentenced I am going to ask for what is called a pre-sentence report.

“You will be sentenced on September 5. In the mean time you can have unconditional bail.

“If you fail to turn up a warrant will be issued for your arrest.”

Four Seaons Health Care is an independent healthcare provider of nursing homes, care homes and specialist units across the UK.

A spokesman for Four Seasons Health care said: “We are disappointed and let down that a member of staff could abuse their position of trust in this way.

“Members of Four Seasons Health Care’s financial management team actively co-operated with an investigation by Cleveland Police into suspected financial irregularities within an administrative department for our Care Homes Division, which came to light in 2012. These investigations have led to this court hearing. We have also conducted our own internal review.

“We have reimbursement arrangements in place, as a matter of routine, so that none of our residents or their families would have experienced any lasting financial loss.”