A care worker was on a path of ‘self-destruction’ when he stole cash from vulnerable patients on a mental health ward.

Jason Slater, of Marble Hall Road, Milford Haven, pleaded guilty to two charges of theft and an attempted theft when he appeared before Haverfordwest magistrates on Tuesday, January 22.

The court heard that Slater, 33, was working on the St Caradog’s ward of Bro Cerwen hospital, Haverfordwest, at the time of the offences, where both victims were vulnerable residential patients.

He stole £1,600 from one woman between August 4 and 11, £900 from another between September 2 and 4, and attempted to steal £1,800 from the first victim between August 6 and 7.

Vaughan Pritchard-Jones, prosecuting, said: “These are very serious offences in the view of the prosecution, because it was a massive breach of trust and an abuse of his position.”

He added that the patients needed help with various tasks including banking, and Slater managed to gain possession of their bank cards and withdraw cash totalling £2,500.

The bench heard that Slater, who was previously of clean character, had lost his job as a result of the offences, and some of the money had been repaid.

Jonathan Webb, defending, said: “He had never been in trouble before in his life and admitted his guilt at the first opportunity.”

Mr Webb added that the police had been unaware there was a second victim until Slater told them about it.

“Frankly the matter is one of mental health. I am of the opinion Mr Slater has had some kind of break-down, or is in the middle of doing so.”

The bench heard that Slater appeared to be suffering from PTSD.

Mr Webb said: “Something has happened which has led to, as he put it, Pandora’s Box being opened. Something has triggered an effect which has led to him having suicidal ideation.

“He decided to go on some path of self-destruction. Some of the money he did not even take home, but he threw it away, so someone else benefited from that money.

Mr Webb added that although the victims were vulnerable, Slater, who was remorseful, had not targeted them because of their situation, but because that was where he was working at the time.

“He was just looking for a victim as a way to hurt himself.”

Magistrates sentenced Slater to 36 weeks in prison for the theft offences, with 18 months to run concurrently for the attempted theft, suspended for 24 months, with 150 hours of unpaid work and a 15 day rehabilitation activity requirement.

He was ordered to pay £2,310 in compensation, costs and a surcharge.