‘Greedy’ carers jailed for fraud


Published: Friday 13th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Two “greedy” carers who defrauded an elderly Parkinson’s sufferer out of more than half a million pounds have been jailed.

Wendy Bell and Amanda Carroll were sentenced with four others at Bradford Crown Court for the “cruel and heartless” fraud against 92-year-old Audrey Hammond.

The carers inflated the cost of Mrs Hammond’s care to “filch” the wealthy widow out of more than £500,000.

Bell, 57, from Cullingworth, West Yorkshire, was jailed for three years and six months. Carroll, 44, of Shipley, West Yorks, was sentenced to three years and five months.

Bell’s daughter, Lisa Bell, 30, Linda Mynott, 60, and Alice Barker, 59, all received suspended jail sentences.

A sixth carer, Caron Gilbert, 33, was handed a 12-month community order.

Judge Colin Burn told them: “This case was brought by the prosecution against all of you on the basis that it’s obvious from the figures and the comparisons with the work diary entries that overcharging for the care of Mrs Hammond in her own home between February 2010 to September 2012 was so excessive that it must have been dishonest.

“There could be, in the crown’s case, no other explanation.”

Judge Burn said Wendy Bell and Carroll played a leading role in the fraud.

He said: “You must take the central responsibility for a scheme which exposed Mrs Hammond, wealthy though she was, to massive financial loss resulting from blatant dishonesty.”

The trial of Wendy and Lisa Bell heard that Wendy Bell and Carroll recruited friends and family to become carers for Mrs Hammond at her home in Cracoe, near Skipton, North Yorkshire.

None of the people employed by Bell and Carroll had any qualifications to care for a patient with Parkinson’s disease. They were not appropriately registered and had not undergone checks with the Criminal Records Bureau.

The court heard that Mrs Hammond is a very wealthy woman. Her family and late husband built up a considerable fortune as coal merchants and she owns substantial interests in land and farms in North Yorkshire.

As the widow’s health declined, she appointed a solicitor to act as power of attorney and authorised him to write cheques on her behalf, as she was physically incapable of doing so.

Giles Bridge, prosecuting, said the defendants “created the opportunity for some carers to filch money from Mrs Hammond and line their own pockets”.

Between February 2010 and September 2012, Wendy Bell and Carroll requested payment from the solicitor for work which had not been undertaken.

They also made requests for inflated petty cash payments.

By the time police became involved in September 2012, Mrs Hammond was paying £35,000 every four weeks for her care. This was reduced to £20,000 when a professional care company took over.

Judge Burn told the court that during the two-year eight-month period, Carroll was overpaid by around £220,000, Wendy Bell by around £139,000, Lisa Bell by around £50,000, Mynott by around £39,000, Barker by around £52,000 and Gilbert by around £16,000.

Opening the case last month, Stephen Wood, prosecuting, said: “There is no doubt that Mrs Hammond was subjected to a cruel and heartless fraud by the greedy. People she trusted to look after her betrayed that trust.”

Wendy and Lisa Bell were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud at the trial. Wendy Bell was also convicted of a charge of fraud.

Carroll pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud and one charge of conspiracy to defraud before the trial.

Lisa Bell, from Cullingworth, West Yorks, was today handed a 15-month jail sentence suspended for two years. She was also given a four-month curfew order and told to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.

She hugged her mother and sobbed loudly as she left the dock.

Mynott, Gilbert, and Barker all from Keighley, West Yorks, all admitted conspiracy to defraud before the trial.

Mynott was handed a seven month jail sentence suspended for two years and was made subject to a four-month curfew order.

Walking with a stick, she also sobbed as she left the dock before sitting in the packed public gallery to watch as Wendy Bell and Carroll were sentenced.

Barker was given a nine-month prison sentence suspended for two years and told to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work.

Detective Constable Shane Martin, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “This was one of the worst cases of financial abuse I have ever seen.

“These so-called carers abused their position of trust and responsibility, provided a poor standard of care and plundered the unsuspecting victim’s bank account, believing they would never be found out.

“Their victim was a frail and elderly lady who trusted the women to look after her in her own home, a situation which has to come with a high degree of trust. These women abused that trust with impunity.

“Today’s outcome should send a very clear message to those who seek to take advantage of the elderly and vulnerable. Justice will be done and you will be made to face the consequences of your actions.”

Published: Friday 13th February 2015 by The News Editor

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