Former owner of Harrogate care business took £37,000 from client accounts

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The former owner of a Harrogate social care business has been jailed for defrauding his clients following an investigation by Veritau on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council.

James Poole, former owner of the Bluebird Care franchise in Harrogate, financially abused his clients while in a position of trust by taking £37,000 from their managed accounts to supplement his business, York Magistrates Court heard.

Poole, who bought the franchise of Blue Yorkshire Ltd in 2010 and sold it in October 2017, admitted that in recent years the business had been failing under his ownership.

As a result he used clients’ funds to supplement his business by almost £37,000, right up to the point the discrepancies in the client’s accounts were raised.

The money he had taken was paid by the County Council to the Bluebird Care clients via direct payments, which are meant to pay for their care.

Mr Poole was responsible for managing these funds on behalf of his clients; however he took advantage of this position by using the money to pay into his business.

Once the discrepancies were brought to his attention Poole repaid the outstanding amount of £18,655 in full.

Poole pleaded guilty to all charges at York Magistrates Court in April, and was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment at York Crown Court on May 10.

Poole was also suspended for two years, ordered to complete 180 hours of unpaid work and pay a victim surcharge.

County Councillor Gareth Dadd, Executive Member for Financial Auditing, said: “This is another good result in the fight on fraud and shows that ultimately dishonesty does not pay.

"It is an example of how North Yorkshire County Council works in partnership with North Yorkshire Police to protect both public funds and vulnerable individuals.

“We will leave no stone unturned in our quest and we send a very clear message to those tempted to put at risk our financial support to vulnerable people - we are chasing you!"

Anyone with any information on fraudulent activity is encouraged to phone the fraud hotline on 0800 9179 247 or email fraud@york.gov.uk