A FORMER finance officer with the National Autistic Society is facing jail for stealing from vulnerable people she should have been helping.
Julie Robb, 53, this week admitted the theft of £24,300 from five autistic adults.
Robb, of Cliff Street, Rishton, pleaded guilty to the five theft charges, between June 2004 and December 2006, when she appeared at Burnley Crown Court.
One victim had £12,300 taken from his bank account, the court was told.
Robb had been due to face trial accused of a total of 14 theft allegations involving £26,000 but the prosecution accepted her pleas.
She had originally denied all the charges but her barrister told the court she had "reconsidered her position".
Robb had worked at the charity’s offices on Queen Street, Great Harwood, since 1999.
Police said that as finance officer she was responsible for managing the branch’s budget and setting up bank accounts for service users.
In many cases she was the sole signatory and was therefore able to withdraw money from the accounts.
The defendant will be sentenced at the end of May and also faces a proceeds of crime inquiry to investigate her assets.
A hearing is due to be held in late August or early September.
John Woodward, defending Robb, said the sentence she would receive was almost inevitable.
But he asked for it to be delayed for Robb to be available to support her son who was due to take examinations.
DC Tracey McMurdo said after the hearing: "Robb abused her position of trust and took advantage of the most vulnerable users of the autistic society’s services.
"During the course of the investigation it became clear that she had debt problems but rather than dealing with them herself she chose to steal from those she was supposed to be protecting.
"She had stolen money over the course of two-and-a-half years and at no point following her arrest or during the investigation did she make any admissions of guilt or offer any explanations for her actions.
"She was dismissed from the National Autistic Society for gross misconduct and it was only then that she was stopped.
"This has been a lengthy and complex investigation and it is extremely satisfying that after her repeated denials Robb has finally admitted that she has done wrong."
A spokesman for the National Autistic Society said: "The discrepancies came to light through standard internal checking procedures and were reported to the police.
"As the UK’s leading charity for people with autism, the NAS places absolute importance on the security and well-being of all people in our care, including with regard to their financial affairs."