A hospital nurse was imprisoned for 14 months after she went on a spending binge with a dying patient’s bank card.
Leanne Wallace, 40, targeted weak and vulnerable Leslie Rushworth, 84, as he lay gravely ill with problems including pneumonia and anorexia.
Teesside Crown Court was told that whilst he was under her care, she took a bank card from his wallet and used it to pay off a £900 loan, purchase a £699 bed, spent £74 on wallpaper and bought items on Amazon.
Days later Leslie Rushworth was transported from the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton to a hospice, where he died.
The judge who imprisoned her said that Leanne Wallace had damaged the reputation of care workers in this country.
The offences came to light after Leslie Rushworth’s son noticed a message from the bank on his father’s phone about suspected fraud.
He initially dismissed it as spam, but the family investigated when further messages followed.
He found the order for the bed and found it was scheduled to be delivered to one of his father’s nurses.
Leanne Wallace initially denied responsibility and the court learned she’d wiped data from her phone.
She then lied by claiming Leslie Rushworth had graciously offered to pay her loan, and after talking about her needing a new bed he bought one for her.
Police found no proof of searches for any of the items on the patient’s phone or iPad.
Emma Atkinson, prosecuting, said all of the money had since been returned to his family, but that the crimes had a significant impact on the family in the last few days of their father’s life.
Leanne Wallace, of Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud by abuse of position when she first arrived in court last month.
Stephen Constantine, in mitigation, said his client was disgusted, devastated and disappointed with her behaviour and she’d shown some measure of understanding and regret and the upset and pain that she’d caused Leslie Rushworth’s family.
Stephen Constantine said it occurred when Leanne Wallace faced financial difficulties following the breakdown of her marriage.
She’s now lost her job at the hospital but has a new role as a carer.
Passing sentence, Judge Howard Crowson said that it was a shocking abuse of trust and that she was selfish and that she’d ruined the families final hours with their father.
Stealing from someone on their death bed is inexcusable, especially when it’s a nurse doing this, but then I guess there’s a rotten egg in every profession.
This was a nurse that got fired from her job and now she’s working as a carer. How on earth did she get that position with theft allegations dangling over her?
Sadly, it brings nurses and carers into question, and anyone who abuses the trust placed in them by vulnerable patients should have far longer sentences.
Of course, there are many exceptional nurses and carers out there, but it only takes a few rotten apples, and she should never be employed in the care sector again, and it just makes you question how many thieves in hospitals and care facilities get away with their misdeeds.
But of course, far worse was probably going on in these places during the pandemic because they knew that their families were being kept at arm’s length, and you can wager that this won’t be the last scandal that we see.