'Appalling' - What judge told Hartlepool nurse as she was jailed for using patient's bank card for herself
A nurse who used a seriously ill patient’s bank card to buy goods for herself and pay off a loan debt has been jailed.
Leanne Wallace, 40, from Hartlepool, was meant to be caring for 84-year-old Leslie Rushworth after he was admitted to Stockton’s University Hospital of North Tees in July last year.
But over the course of two days she used his bank card five times to buy a new bed, wallpaper, order items from Amazon and pay off a £900 loan.
Mr Rushworth, from Seaton Carew, was so ill he was barely able to communicate at the time and sadly died in a hospice just days later.
Wallace, of Challoner Road, was jailed for 14 months at Teesside Crown Court on Thursday for what the judge said was “an appalling abuse of trust”.
The court heard her behaviour had a devastating impact on Mr Rushworth’s family after they uncovered Wallace’s crimes during their father’s final days.
Mr Rushworth, a granddad of four, was admitted to the hospital with abdominal pain, anorexia and general deterioration.
His family began to investigate after alerts from Mr Rushworth’s bank appeared on his phone about possible fraud activity.
They discovered five transactions over two days to buy wallpaper, two orders to Amazon, buy a £699 bed and pay £900 to a loan company.
The bed was bought in Mr Rushworth’s name to be delivered to Wallace at her address.
His sons first contacted their father’s care home and then the hospital to find out who was responsible.
Emma Atkinson, prosecuting, said: “That's when they realised that the defendant was a nurse on the ward that their father was in just days before he died.”
When quizzed, Wallace initially denied the goods were for her and claimed Mr Rushworth had offered to lend her the money to pay off the £900 debt.
She later admitted four counts of fraud and the court heard she has lost her job as a result.
Barrister Stephen Constantine, mitigating, said Wallace acted deplorably during a time of desperation and feels “disgusted, devastated and disappointed”.
Judge Howard Crowson told her: “This was an appalling abuse of trust.”
He said due to the level of distress to Mr Rushworth’s family that only an immediate prison sentence was justified.
The hospital has been approached for comment.