A CARE assistant at Withybush hospital, who was paid for work she didn't do for three years, has been cleared of fraud.

Laura Hicks, of Winch Lane, Haverfordwest, had denied obtaining £19,991.11 from the Hywel Dda University Health Board by fraud between October 2014 and November 2017.

A jury at Swansea crown court heard today, April 17, that Hicks began working there in October 2012 and a mistake was made in October 2014.

The mistake arose when Hicks expressed an interest in taking on a different role at the hospital. She was not appointed but began to be paid as if she had been.

Ieuan Rees, prosecuting, told the jury that the first mistake was not her's and it would be easy to have sympathy with her.

"But it is nothing to do with sympathy but common sense. This went on for three years," he said.

Hicks began receiving two pay slips instead of one. A colleague who noticed queried it with her and Hicks told her it was "something I will have to look into."

But, said Mr Rees, she didn't raise it with the relevant members of staff.

Hicks, a 36-year-old mother of two daughters, told the jury that when she began receiving two payslips she did not examine them carefully and thought the second was a duplicate of the first.

Judge Keith Thomas said there was no dispute that she was overpaid and had a duty to declare it to her employer.

But the jury had to decide if she was aware of the extra payments and, if she was, whether she was being dishonest in not notifying her employer.

Hicks said she did not take a close interest in her finances and did not realise she was being overpaid.

The jury returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty.