Nurse stole from vulnerable patients

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A nurse who stole items from vulnerable patients at a Buxton care home has been spared jail.

Joseph Bannerman Thompson had been employed at The Portland Nursing Home as an agency nurse since August 2013, High Peak Magistrates’ Court heard.

Concerns had been raised about his behaviour and missing items for several months so on December 29, a staff member placed a bottle of her own perfume, which had been specially marked, in one of the residents’ rooms, prosecutor Jennifer Fitzgerald said.

The perfume went missing after Bannerman Thompson’s shift so police were called.

In his car, a number of items that had been taken from the home were found, including toilet rolls and food that had been taken from the home’s supplies, as well as items belonging to residents including a bar of soap, a box of dates, cartons of Ribena and a cushion.

Some of the items had been taken from patients suffering from dementia, with the daughter of one victim saying the theft made her “feel sick to the stomach”, Mrs Fitzgerald said.

In interview, Bannerman Thompson said that something had come over him in the few days before December 29 and he had started putting the items in his car. He added that he had no need for the items and that he had no intention of selling them.

The 64-year-old of Bedford Street South, Liverpool, admitted six counts of theft.

Lisa Tinsley, defending, said: “In many ways this is an unusual case. Mr Bannerman Thompson is 64 years of age with no previous convictions or cautions. He has had a long career as a mental health nurse, has a Masters degree and is an intelligent man. He admitted responsibilty for the offence but was unable to give any explanation why the offences occurred.

“There is an unresolved bereavement issue. He doesn’t like to talk about it but it is something that is always there.

“It’s probably something which has been on his mind but at a more subconscious level.”

Sentencing him to 16 weeks in prison, suspended for 24 months, chairman of the bench Robert Whatmough said: “This offence is at the highest end of breach of trust.

“That trust was to look after elderly and vulnerable people in their own homes. Many of these individuals suffer from dementia and this whole affair is very, very sad and left them terribly confused and distraught.”

He was also given a four-month curfew from 7pm to 7am, a 12-month supervision order and must pay £85 costs and an £80 surcharge.