A CARE home manager who stole more than £1,300 from an autistic resident and tried to pin the blame on a colleague has been jailed for six months.

Judge Stephen Hopkins told Kelly Davies, 35, that it was "difficult to conceive a more wicked breach of trust".

Prosecutor Ieuan Bennett told Newport Crown Court that the victim, 29, had lived at Cwm Hyfryd care home in Pontllanfraith for a decade.

As manager at Cwm Hyfryd, Davies had a "significant position of authority and trust" and oversaw the victim's bank accounts. He then received a small amount for spending money.

Between March 11, 2010, and May 7, 2011, Davies stole £1,317 from the victim.

"The defendant must have been taking out money and simply not passing it on to him," said Mr Bennett. "He said in his video interview that he had to open a new bank account because 'thieves' had broken into his account."

An internal investigation was launched and Davies was suspended in June this year.

She was arrested at her home on July 15, where police found documents relating to the victim's bank accounts.

Davies admitted using a fake name to send an email to the deputy manager of the care home, falsely accusing her of spending the victim's money.

Andrew Jones, mitigating, said Davies was a loving mother of a young daughter who has had three heart operations, and whose mother had died in May after a serious illness.

He said she felt "real and genuine shame and a true sense of sorrow", and had not lived a "flash lifestyle" with the money.

For eight counts of theft, Judge Hopkins sentenced Davies to six months imprisonment for each offence, to run concurrently.

He told the court he was not punishing those who relied upon Davies, of Green Hill Place, Hengoed, for care.

He said: "I am reacting to what you did. You are responsible for the hurt that this may cause to others, innocent of any wrong doing."

IN A statement, Keith Owen, home manager of Cwm Hyfryd said: "We were appalled by the behaviour of this individual and will never tolerate stealing. This is out of step with everything we stand for.

"The moment it was reported, the member of staff in question was immediately suspended and the police informed. We liaised closely and regularly with the local authority safeguarding teams to ensure best practice throughout. "We also worked closely with the service user and their family and have fully reimbursed all missing money. "Since the event, a full and thorough safeguarding process has been completed. We have completely overhauled our financial procedures to introduce new robust systems that safeguard both service user and the serviceÕs money. "We have also introduced further rigorous tests within our recruitment procedure, including both psychometric and competency-based checks, alongside the standard assessments.

"Cwm Hyfryd is fully compliant with CSSIW standards and Care Council for Wales management requirements. The safety and wellbeing of everyone we support remains our absolute top priority."