A CARER tricked a vulnerable and elderly patient out of thousands of pounds, a jury was told yesterday.
Caroline Irvine provided support and care in the community for pensioner Edith Hall, but she is now accused of plundering her bank account of up to £3,650.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the 47-year-old, of Grange View in Widdrington, near Morpeth, had a “close rapport” with Ms Hall, who is in her 80s and has learning difficulties, but it is alleged she then used her privileged position to empty her account.
Irvine, who also goes under the name Maddison, denies stealing the money between March 31, 2005 and November 11, 2005. But Andrew Finlay, prosecuting, told a jury yesterday that the carer had taken advantage of her vulnerable client.
The court heard Ms Hall, who is known as Thelma, had spent some time in hospital due to her “mental impairments,” but that she was eventually released into the care of the community at residential homes at Stobhill, Morpeth. Mr Finlay said: “She has learning difficulties and she requires somebody to help her in relation to her finances, such as paying her bills or getting cash from the bank, as she struggles to understand the difference between a £5 note and a £10 note.”
Ms Hall’s care was provided by a company called Carewatch, who employed Irvine. She became Ms Hall’s full-time carer in 2004 and the pair became friends.
In May 2005, Ms Hall was assigned another main carer, but the pair stayed in touch and Irvine kept control of the elderly woman’s finances.
Over the next few months it is alleged Irvine used Ms Hall’s ATM card to withdraw £4,650, a large proportion of which – the prosecution claim – never went to her.
The jury heard there were 24 transactions, which in one month alone amounted to £1,400 – far more than Ms Hall used.
Mr Finlay said: “She lived on a diet of yoghurt and mashed potato. She did a lot of her shopping in charity shops. She was not extravagant.”
The alleged theft came to light when Ms Hall’s new carer, Louise Robson, raised the alarm after noticing the large withdrawals from her account and realised they did not correspond to the receipts for items that had been bought on her behalf, which were kept by the company.
Irvine was arrested and interviewed, but she insisted all the money she had withdrawn had gone to Ms Hall, who she claimed was a “hoarder” who liked to buy new clothes every few days.
But Mr Finlay told the court: “There is a significant shortfall between the money taken out of her account and what the receipts added up to.”
He added “Her lifestyle was particularly modest and meagre.”
The trial continues.