AN aged care nurse who stole more than $7000 from an incapacitated Gold Coast nursing home patient has had her jail term reduced on appeal.
Akesiu Ellen Frey, 42, in November pleaded guilty in the Southport Magistrates Court after she admitted withdrawing money using the keycard of an 83-year-old patient suffering Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
The card was used on 13 occasions between December 1, 2010 and February 18, 2011.
A review of bank statements by the nursing home director found a total of $7038 had been withdrawn.
Frey told police she spent the money on living expenses for herself and her children.
She was jailed for two years to be released on parole after nine months and one day on August 1, 2012.
However, lawyers for Frey appealed the sentence on the basis it was manifestly excessive.
In a judgment made public today, Judge John Newton agreed the sentence was inappropriate.
Dementia docs face jail
Doctors who treat dementia patients with antipsychotic drugs (used as powerful and potentially dangerous sedatives) may face prison for up to five years. The health minister, Paul Burstow, has announced that an estimated 1,800 people die, and many more suffer serious side effects (such as a stroke) as a result of taking the drugs each year.
Care home staff see medication as an easy way to subdue elderly patients who suffer agitation or distress as part of their dementia. Last year, Mr Burstow set a target to reduce the number of care home residents routinely prescribed the drugs from 180,000 to around 60,000 by the end of this month. However, he has said that the early signs are “not encouraging” and that the evidence suggests the target has been missed.
Unless the current “consensual approach” cuts the number of prescriptions by two thirds, the Government will reform the law so that the prescription of anti-psychotics must comply with the deprivation of liberty safeguards that come under the Mental Health Act. Mr Burstow will announce details of the policy in a speech to the Dementia Congress in Liverpool today.
“Such a sentence fails to reflect the co-operation of (Frey), both in respect of her admissions to the investigating officers, and also her co-operation with the Court system,” he said.
“On the other hand, the matter is serious because it involves the unlawful use of the complainant’s ATM card on 13 occasions, over a six week period.”
Judge Newton set aside the original sentences and jailed Frey for 18 months and ordered to pay the stolen money back.
She will be released on parole on March 1.
Crime and Court News | goldcoast.com.au | Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia