Nursing home boss admits £20k fraud

The finance chief of a nursing home who raided savings set aside to buy toiletries for the elderly residents while plundering more than £20,000 from its bank accounts has been spared jail.

Tracy Bennett (

Debt-ridden Tracy Bennett secretly moved almost £3,000 into a personal bank account to pay her bills and then fiddled the books in a bid to cover up the three-and-a-half month crime spree, a judge heard.

She forged signatures on receipts that suggested cash had gone on buying a specialist chair, paying solicitor’s fees or other expenses for residents at Holbeche House in Wall Heath, Dudley.

The 40-year-old single mother of twin girls also secretly syphoned off a further £17,545 paid by local authorities to cover the accommodation costs of people living at the home between November and February this year, Wolverhampton Crown court was told yesterday.

She joined the staff at Holbeache House in 2008 and worked her way up to become its administrator in charge of the finances.

Prosecutor Edward Soulsby said: “The money was diverted into her own account. In the case of the allowance account she forged signatures on receipts to cover the expenditure while with the fees she relied on councils not always being able to keep as close an eye on individual accounts as an immediate family. When arrested, Bennett only admitted those offences that were incontrovertible and showed no remorse, blaming it all on her depression.”

Bernard Porter, defending, revealed that £8,500 found in Bennett’s account when the scam was uncovered had since been frozen and that she will face a Proceeds of Crime hearing next February.

Bennett, from Broad Street, Kingswinford, pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud involving a total of £20,496 and was given a 42-week prison sentence suspended for two years.

Judge Martin Walsh said she had not been jailed immediately because of her health, children and previous good character.

Sarah Ramamurthy, from the home’s operator Four Seasons, said any resident or former resident who had lost money would be reim bursed.