28th Oct, 2016

Callous carer leaves frail victim £80,000 out of pocket

Leamington Editorial 12th Aug, 2016 Updated: 7 hours ago

A FRAIL 91-year-old who was fleeced out of £84,000 by a heartless Warwick carer who pretended to be her adopted daughter will get less than £4,000 of her money back.

Callous Suzette Smith, herself a pensioner, was finally caught after building society staff became suspicious of the large sums her confused victim was withdrawing.

Smith, of Sharpe Close, was jailed for two years and five months in May after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to charges of theft and fraud.

But a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act had to be adjourned for an investigation to be undertaken into the 66 year-old’s finances.

Prosecutor Peter Cooper said it was agreed Smith’s benefit from her crimes was £84,000, but the resumed hearing was told

Smith had realisable assets’ of just £3,555.

Recorder Gareth Evans QC ordered that amount should be confiscated from Smith and used to pay some compensation to her victim.

Asking for Smith to be given time to pay, her barrister Aadhithya Anbahan explained her husband Roger Smith wouldl have to sell assets valued at £700 towards meeting the figure.

Recorder Evans allowed until November 9 for the money to be paid, with Smith facing a further two months in jail if it not paid by then – after which she will still owe the money.

During the original hearing it was said Smith’s victim, who suffers from dementia, had been admitted to hospital in 2011 following a fall.

She was discharged with a care package which included daily visits to her home in Warwick by carers including Smith, and the following year she took on Smith as a private carer.

From then on Smith took advantage of her position to repeatedly take the old lady to her bank and building society ATMs to withdraw large amounts of cash which she then kept.

Smith stole around £80,000 in that way – as well as fraudulently transferring £4,000 from the old lady’s account into her own account to pay for a holiday.

Matters came to light in January last year after a staff member at Coventry Building Society branch manager was concerned because the elderly customer, accompanied by Smith, was withdrawing a lot of money and seemed confused.

The police were contacted, and when Smith was arrested officers who searched her home saw evidence of a luxury lifestyle, including a new kitchen and conservatory, and found £2,000 in cash stashed in a shoe box in her bedroom.

When she was interviewed Smith denied any wrong-doing, claiming her victim was being ripped off by other people.

Eventually Smith, whose thefts continued after she had been given a community order for a benefit fraud in 2013, said she would ‘play a game’ on the old lady by pretending to be her adopted daughter, and agreed she had had several thousand pounds.