A carer who defrauded five vulnerable clients of more than £2,000 cash by using their bank cards and PIN numbers has received a suspended 26-week sentence.

Zoe Jones had been working for a company engaged by social services in Rhyl looking after the five - two men and three women - who were suffering from severe learning or mental health problems, said James Neary, prosecuting at Llandudno court.

She pleaded guilty to five charges of fraud committed between March and June last year and was ordered to pay a total of £2,210, which includes full compensation for the victims, and court costs.

Jones, 37, of Nant y Gro, Gronant, must carry out 150 hours of unpaid work, with 20 days’ rehabilitation.

Mr Neary said Jones had told police she was repaying a loan to meet a cocaine debt. An inquiry had started after discrepancies had been revealed and Jones was implicated when her days at work had been checked.

"It was a significant breach of trust against vulnerable victims," declared Mr Neary. "The finger of suspicion had also pointed at other people."

Nia Dawson, defending, said she had an impeccable record as a hard working carer. She had a drugs debt of £200 and it multiplied after she had been lent the money "by someone well known to the courts".

Threats had been made against her and her family and she was "between a rock and a hard place." She was genuinely remorseful.

A probation officer said just before the offences she spent money on a New York holiday instead of getting rid of her debt. She had paid the lender £400 and, according to Jones, he then approached her wanting more money. "The situation snowballed into a crime," said the probation officer, Jones stated she'd contacted Narcotics Anonymous. She said she hadn’t touched cocaine for a year and hoped to take an access course so she could study at university.

Court chairman Darren Campbell, announcing sentence, said the offences had happened when she was in a position of trust and involved vulnerable victims. "It's a shame to see you here today, you were well thought of by your employers and those you cared for." He said it was difficult to understand why, at a time of debt, she "had prioritised a holiday in New York". The sentence would be suspended for a year.