A student nurse who stole from ‘seriously ill’ and highly vulnerable patients in hospital has been spared jail.
Ruth Daniel, 28, shamelessly obtained personal details and helped herself to bank cards which she then used to make fraudulent purchases.
She bought ‘click and collect’ items from Asda and made several contactless payments totalling £1,100.
Daniel committed the ‘grotesque breach of trust’ while working at Bradford Royal Infirmary last year.
Bradford Teaching Hospitals alerted police and supplied CCTV footage after her ‘despicable’ crimes were uncovered.
She was suspended from duties and the Trust is now reviewing the conditions of her employment as a matter of urgency.
Daniel, of Low Moor near Bradford, West Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to four offences of fraud and two of theft at Bradford Crown Court.
She also admitted ten additional offences – seven of fraud and three of theft – totalling £3,970.
Daniel was handed a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to undertake 240 hours of unpaid work and attend 20 rehabilitation days.
In total, she stole around £1,100 from three patients and one fellow member of staff.
Prosecuting, Philip Adams said Daniel ‘abused her position to steal from and defraud vulnerable patients and staff’.
The first victim was a friend of Daniel’s grandmother, a topic she had used to grow close to the patients.
Daniel searched through the lady’s handbag, obtaining her bank details which she used to make five purchases from Asda costing a total of £725.
The second victim was a fellow nurse. Daniel stole a bank card from her handbag which had been left in a secure staff room and used it to make eight contactless purchases totalling £173.
The third victim had been suffering from a life-threatening condition and was ‘seriously ill’, Mr Adams said.
Daniel stole her bank details and made two purchases from Asda, one for 15p, Mr Adams said – followed by another of more than £100.
The amount equated to the victim’s entire pension for that period. Mr Adams said the victim had suspected Daniel after she had been ‘over-friendly’ towards her.
The fourth victim had been rushed into hospital for an emergency operation, a court heard.
Mitigating, Emma Downing said Daniel was ‘deeply ashamed of her despicable, disgusting behaviour’.
She said Daniel had developed a gambling addiction that was ‘spiralling out of control’ and had been gambling away her entire wage.
Judge David Hatton QC said: ‘You said you are deeply ashamed of your conduct and it’s right you should be.
‘These were despicable offences. Those patients you defrauded were highly vulnerable people, and each offence involved a grotesque breach of trust.
‘Although objectively they were not large amounts, they were substantial to the people involved and has caused them significant distress.
‘You have shown clear, genuine remorse and will almost inevitably lose your career, and it may be difficult to obtain employment in future, but you only have yourself to blame.
‘But, I have to take into account the effects of a prison sentence on your children.’
Speaking after the hearing, Karen Dawber, chief nurse at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘This is a despicable crime which betrays the trust patients and other people rightly have in our NHS.
‘Thankfully, such criminal acts are very rare and do not reflect the extremely high professional standards and compassion of our nursing staff.
‘As soon as we became aware of a potential crime we alerted the police, supplying them with CCTV footage and other evidence we had.
‘The member of staff was suspended from duties and, following the conclusion of the court case today, the trust is now in a position to review the conditions of employment as a matter of urgency; until this has been concluded the member of staff remains suspended from work.’