Thief avoids jail term due to poor health

The crest above the entrance to King's Lynn Court in College Lane.
The crest above the entrance to King's Lynn Court in College Lane.
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A 62-year-old man who admitted stealing thousands of pounds from two of his previous employers has avoided a jail sentence.

Edward Petchey, of Oakes Court Care Home, Downham, pleaded guilty to two charges of theft and was handed two 12-month sentences to run consecutively, suspended for two years.

At Lynn’s Crown Court on Friday, it was said that between 2008 and 2010, Petchey stole a total sum of £5,719 from Josie Sierralta Veitia of Josie’s Super Snacks in Lynn, and £10,000 from Moccahinos, in St Dominic Square in Lynn, between 2008 and 2013.

The court heard that Petchey had been employed as a bookkeeper for the two businesses, and was responsible for taking care of paying tax as well as other financial matters.

But it was said that in police interviews, Petchey admitted spending the money on himself after becoming bankrupt.

Charles Kellett, prosecuting, said: “At one stage [Ms Sierralta Veitia] was worried about losing her business. She said that it was very stressful. This was an abuse of trust.”

The court heard that Petchey was of previous good character with no former convictions.

His defence counsel argued that the defendant’s health should be taken into consideration, too.

William Carter, mitigating, said: “His doctor’s surgery have detailed his relatively serious medical conditions, including morbid obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

“The care that he receives at his nursing home is very intensive, Mr Petchey is more or less immobile.”

Judge Mark Dennis QC, sentencing, said: “This was a gross breach of trust over a prolonged period of time and caused great stress and anxiety for both of your victims.

“No money will be recovered from you as you are bankrupt, but you get credit for your early guilty pleas. It is with great reluctance that I take the view that with the reality of your personal circumstances – your substantial health problems and your high level of intense care – your care would best be delivered by allowing your present circumstances to continue.”