A cruel carer who stole almost £7,500 from a vulnerable man to fund a trip to America to meet a man she met online in a “desperate search for love” has been jailed.

Scheming Sarah Grey, 44, had been appointed to ensure Paul Chapman’s finances were properly looked after.

But instead of helping the 50-year-old manage his money, she encouraged him to take out a loan and then pocketed the cash for herself.

A court heard Grey, who was working as an assistant care co-ordinator for Dudley Council, stole the funds between April 2014 and March last year.

She was rumbled when her bosses became suspicious and reported her to the police.

Grey admitted the theft but told officers she had built up debts when a relationship ended in 2010.

But detectives looked into her finances and found she had spent £3,500 to fly to the USA to meet up with someone she had met online.

Grey, of Kingswinford, West Mids., pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud and one offence of theft when she appeared at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

She was jailed for 14 months at the same court on Monday (25/4).

Sentencing, Judge John Wait said: “The man was vulnerable and still required care when you closed down his case.

“He was found in a desperate state with his house in disarray.”

The court heard Grey used details of Mr Chapman’s accounts to take out a £5,000 loan in his name from the Nationwide bank on April 30, 2014.

She arranged to have the money paid into his Halifax current account before making six withdrawals in six days which totalled £3,800.

Grey tried to cover up the fraud by pretending the cash was going to the Department of Work and Pensions when in fact it went straight into her personal account.

Prosecutor David Bennett said within 12 months she had taken the entire £5,000 as well as pocketing a further £2,418 from Mr Chapman’s current account and using a bank card issued in his name.

The court heard Grey was strapped for cash after bombarding unidentified people with gifts and flowers she couldn’t afford.

She also used the cash to pay for a trip to America to meet a man she had fallen for on the internet.

Simon Hanns, defending, said: “She was trying to fulfil that relationship but like so many others she has tried to fulfil it failed.

“This was a desperate search for love.”

Speaking after the case, Mr Chapman, who lives in Dudley, West Mids., and suffers from learning difficulties and a speech impediment, said: “I learned to trust her and she made me dependant on her if anything went wrong.

“I never thought she would steal from me or commit fraud.

“Since I found out about everything she did I feel I have been tricked and that leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.

“I feel betrayed and let down. She had promised to help me and give me all the support I needed after my mother died in June 2012.”

Detective Constable Simon Forscutt, from West Midlands Police, added: “This man was vulnerable and needed help with day to day chores and finances.

“He thought Grey was there to help him and he trusted her implicitly, giving her access to his bank account.

“But she abused that trust and used her position to fund her personal life.

“Her employer was quick to take action and informed us as soon as this deception came to light.

“We respect the court’s decision and hope that this brings some closure to the victim.”

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