A MENTAL health carer who stole more than £31,000 from a vulnerable woman with the mental age of a five-year-old was jailed yesterday.

Over the course of four years Denise Kiff swindled cash from Maureen Baker, who she was supposed to be looking after.

Kiff, who worked for mental health charity Mencap, used Miss Baker’s debit card to withdraw cash, and buy Chinese takeaways and clothes. She even took out a bank loan in Miss Baker’s name.

Oxford Crown Court was told that she managed to scam a total of £31,217.71 from Miss Baker, who was aged in her 60s, but had the mental function of a five-year-old child and lived in sheltered accommodation.

The sum included the £5,000 loan, which the court heard Santander Bank was still insisting that Miss Baker pay back. Kiff, of St Leonard’s Close, Banbury, admitted 19 counts of fraud last month and was yesterday jailed for 16 months after Judge Ian Pringle told her she had breached Miss Baker’s trust.

Wendy Hewitt, prosecuting, told the court 40-year-old Kiff had worked as Miss Baker’s sole support worker for many years and had been employed by Mencap since 1998 when the charity took over the company she worked for.

Ms Hewitt said that Kiff had been using Miss Baker’s debit cards from as far back as April 2007, until March 2011 when she ceased working with her.

Jane Brady, defending, said that Kiff had taken the money because she was in financial difficulty, and had wanted to help her recently widowed father.

She told the court that Kiff and Miss Baker had been extremely close, and Kiff regretted her actions.

“She took money from Miss Baker with a desire to improve other people’s lives not her own,” said Miss Brady. She accepts that spiralled out of control.”

Kiff was jailed for 16 months.