MORE than 500 people have signed a petition calling on disgraced care home manager Nichola Quirke to pay back all of the money she stole from vulnerable patients in her care.
Quirke, of Sandford Avenue, Gosport, pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud last week and was sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended for two years.
The 38-year-old had stolen at least £6,000 from five disabled residents at Brooklands Care Home, in Gosport, while she worked there as manager from 2011 until 2013.
Care home owners Debbie and Roger Bird hit out at the sentence and spoke of their absolute disgust at their former friend’s betrayal.
Mr Bird said: ‘It has been a very traumatic time for all at Brooklands, the staff and especially the parents.
‘We are pleased that Nichola Quirke eventually pleaded guilty and saved the parents any further distress, and that the service users get some of their money back.
‘We all feel that she got off very lightly considering that these are vulnerable adults she stole from.
‘Her greed has caused a lot of upset, but thankfully the service users’ care was not affected which at the end of the day is the most important thing.’
During Quirke’s case, the court heard that she had not neglected the residents in any other way apart from the theft and the judge ordered her to pay £2,600 in compensation – at least £3,400 less than she is thought to have taken – to be split between the five residents.
Mr and Mrs Bird were friends with Quirke after they met her when she was working as a manager for Hampshire Autistic Society. They said they ‘trusted her implicitly’ and Mrs Bird was godmother to Quirke’s daughter.
Mrs Bird said she was still in a state of shock and that she was angry that Quirke did not admit her guilt until the first day of her trial.
She said: ‘You don’t do that to anyone but to do it to people with disabilities is despicable.’
She said she had signed a petition set up by Mikala Aquilana, which as of yesterday had 589 signatures, calling on Quirke to pay back all of the cash.
Ms Aquilana said: ‘This act of fraud on vulnerable people is despicable; she not only stole their money, she stole their trust and devastated the families and victims.
‘For this fraudulent act, she was only ordered to do 150 hours community service and to pay £2,600 compensation which will be split between the five families. I urge you, please sign this petition. The families deserve to get all their money back.’
Ms Aquilana hopes to reach 1,000 names before she presents the petition to Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage.
To sign the petition go online at thepetitionsite.com/919/644/083/care-manager-steals-thousands-from-disabled-patients/
Mr Bird thanked the parents and staff for their support, and also thanked investigating officer Det Con Marie Duffy.
He said: ‘It was a huge shock but now that she has been sentenced we can draw a line under it and move on.’