A THIEVING care home worker who stole more than £3,000 from vulnerable adults insisted to a court she hadn't done it as residents "do not have much of a life as it is".

Janice Kettle stole £3,547 from two residents at Newbus Grange, in Neasham, near Darlington, which cares for adults with mental health needs and learning disabilities.

The 52-year-old, of Grangemoor Close, Darlington, denied two charges of theft by employee, but was found guilty following a trial at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court today (Tuesday, August 19).

The court heard Kettle had worked at the care home - formally run by scandal-hit company, Castlebeck Care - as a secretary for seven years and had looked after patients’ finances as they were unable to do so themselves.

She took £1,297 from one resident and £2,250 from the other between July and September 2012 by signing off a number of documents needed to withdraw money from their bank accounts.

An audit was carried out following her suspension and subsequent resignation in September, which revealed the residents had not received their cash.

The financial records of one resident had also gone missing.

Andrea Milsom, prosecuting, said over a period of around five weeks, a number of cash deposits were made to Kettle’s bank account, ranging from £160 to £1,000.

“These cash deposits are very similar to the amounts that have been taken from the residents,” she said.

Smartly-dressed Kettle, who represented herself during the trial, claimed the deposits were bingo and lottery wins or cash given to her by her mother.

“Yes I did gamble, but I never took anything from Newbus Grange, there was no need to do that whatsoever,” she told the court.

“I never took anything at all - I wouldn’t dream of it.

“Those residents that are in there do not have much of a life as it is – I just wouldn’t do it.”

She said that while she accepted signing the documents needed to release patients’ money, she had not questioned why such large amounts were being requested, who had requested them, and did not know what the money was being used for.

“The reason you can’t recall or give such answers is because this money was taken – you took that money,” said Ms Milsom.

Magistrates adjourned sentencing to allow the Probation Service to write a presentence report on Kettle.

She will return to court on Tuesday, September 9.