A CARER who stole money from clients at the Apuldram Centre has avoided going to jail.
Lee Tiley, 42, of Manhood Lane, Sidlesham, pleaded guilty in May at Worthing Magistrates’ Court to four counts of theft and four counts of falsifying entries in a cash book.
He stole £6,142 over the course of four years from people at the centre, near Chichester, which caters for people with learning disabilities.
He was given a 12-month prison sentence at Chichester Crown Court this afternoon (July 18), which was suspended for two years.
“You were something of an expert in the needs of people who suffer from disabilities, because you have for four years cared for your own teenage step-daughter who is herself severely disabled,” Tiley was told by sentencing judge His Honour Christopher Parker QC.
“You’ve no doubt at some stage had time to think about how you would feel if someone in your position stole her money.
“In total, from four vulnerable people, you stole £6,142 over a four-year period and in addition tried to cover your tracks by faking the entries in the accounts.”
Judge Parker said the offences were ‘so serious that only a prison sentence is merited’.
However, he was persuaded to suspend the sentence after hearing mitigation from Tiley’s defence counsel Katherine Stock.
The court heard Tiley admitted his crimes at the earliest opportunity, confessing to police officers when he was arrested.
Judge Parker said: “I take into account the very many good things which are said about you by other people who know you well; by the fact that people who do know you well are – despite these offences – still prepared to place very considerable trust in you.
“One has to hope they they aren’t being foolish.”
The court heard that under Apuldram’s system, which has now been changed, Tiley would accompany clients to the bank to withdraw money for them.
However, he would often withdraw more to keep for himself and his family and then make a false entry in the account book.
Before the sentencing today his family had made a repayment to the Apuldram Centre of all the money stolen between 2009 and 2013, when suspicions were raised.
Tiley received the 12-month prison sentence for the eight counts in total, to run concurrently, which will be suspended for two years.
He was also sentenced to 240 hours of unpaid work.