A low-life hospital worker has been jailed for stealing hundreds of pounds from vulnerable patients by rifling through their belongings on the wards.
Clinical support worker Gayle Beale, 42, was told she “failed dreadfully” in her duty of care at Warwick Hospital.
A court heard Beale swiped the cash from patients’ purses and hid the money in her BRA.
Between 2008 and May this year Beale stole a total of £921 from seven patients, many who were elderly. She also stole £314 from another patient.
She was jailed for ten months at Warwick Crown Court last Friday after pleading guilty to eight charges of theft.
Beale, of Warwick, also asked for six more to be taken into consideration.
Recorder Keith Raynor told her: “You were involved in a campaign of regular and persistent theft from elderly patients who were on the ward and under your care.
“They were vulnerable and they looked to you for the care and support you were employed to provide, and you failed dreadfully in that duty of care.”
The court heard a police investigation was launched in May after a man made a complaint when he noticed money missing from his 89-year-old mother’s purse.
He explained that he was aware his mother, who has since died, had £380 in her purse, but that when he had visited her in the hospital the following day, it had gone.
When the police contacted the hospital they were told that a number of other thefts had been reported to the hospital, rather than to the police, over a period of time.
So officers decided to mount a covert operation, and in July they left a bag containing £50 in notes marked with an invisible fluorescent substance in one of the wards.
The bag was later found to have been moved, and the cash was missing from it.
When the staff were then checked using an ultraviolet black light, under which the substance would show up, Beale had marks from the notes on her hands.
She handed over the £50 which she had concealed in her bra and admitted she had carried out a number of similar thefts of cash from patients since 2008.
Prosecutor Alex Warren said: “These thefts were committed in the course of her employment as a clinical support worker on Nicholas and Fairfax wards at Warwick Hospital.”
Beale, who accepted her victims were ill and that many of them were elderly, said that at first it happened about once a month, but had then become more frequent.
Liz De’Oliveira, defending, said: “She admitted all she could recall. She is absolutely devastated by her behaviour.
“She doesn’t understand why she did it; she wasn’t short of money.”