Mr Justice Bell said Neelah Smith, 32, who had given her nursing staff undeclared extra cash payments, could not have avoided going to prison. But she had endured a 'long and anguished' wait for her appearance at Norwich Crown Court and the sentence was longer than was necessary.
Smith, a registered nurse who ran a residential home at Hunstanton, Norfolk, was jailed on 1 September for cheating the Inland Revenue and false accounting. The Court of Appeal was earlier told that she was a devoted nurse who had much local support. She had made the extra cash payments in an effort to keep up with rival homes and ensure that her residents were cared for by familiar staff. The home was now being run by receivers who were content that Smith should return as a manager.
Mr Justice Bell said the Revenue had been deprived of a large sum of money as a result of a systematic fraud and a custodial sentence was justified. However, the court felt, largely as an act of mercy, that the sentence could be reduced. Smith can expect to be released early next year.