Nursing Career Up in Puff of Smoke for Patient Theft; Thieving Carer Preys on Elderly in Nursing Home

Article excerpt

A NURSE who pilfered money from an elderly patient for more than a year to pay for cigarettes was caught out by a suspicious grandson who set up surveillance cameras to catch the thief.

It was discovered an enrolled male nurse, who worked at Grevillea Gardens Nursing Home where the woman was a patient, had been regularly stealing small amounts of money, which totalled $567 by the time he was caught.

When video footage confirmed the grandson's suspicions, he took the evidence to police and Wade David Steele was questioned and charged with 40 counts of stealing.

Steele, 35, pleaded guilty to all 40 charges in Gympie Magistrates Court this week and said he had been taking the money to pay for a smoking habit he had been hiding from his wife.

The court heard Steele had unrestricted access to all patients' rooms and had entered the woman's room when it wasn't occupied.

Footage showed him taking a key from a hiding place to open a locked drawer where the wallet was kept. It was believed he did this on 40 occasions from July 2009 to August 2010 and when Steele was interviewed by police in September, he admitted to it all.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Lisa Manns said a lack of criminal history suggested the offending period was out of character for Steele however, she said the crimes were akin to stealing as a servant and needed to be dealt with as such.

"It's a big leap from a minor offence (of shoplifting he committed) in 2000 where he received a fine...

"It is prosecution's submission the defendant be convicted and sentenced to a suspended term of imprisonment... (to act) as a deterrent,a she said.

In Steele's defence, solicitor Chris Anderson said his client had repaid the money owing and written a letter of apology to his victim. …