Carer accused of killing widow visited her home after being told to stay away

North Devon Gazette

A carer who is accused of murdering a widow went back to her home after he had been suspended and ordered to stay away by his boss.

Michael Robinson was suspended after housebound client Carol Hart accused him of using her bank card to steal thousands of pounds.

He was told not to return to her home in Northam but did so anyway, a jury at Exeter Crown Court was told.

Mrs Hart told the boss of local care company CQC that Robinson had been ‘jumping around like an idiot’ when he went to her home three days before the killing.

She told another carer that he had visited her to plead his innocence and that he left after she told him to ‘back off’.

Robinson is on trial accused of strangling and beating Mrs Hart to death at her home in J H Taylor Drive, Northam, in the early hours of Monday January 11 this year.

The prosecution say he killed her after she accused him of stealing around £4,000 from her account over six weeks at the end of 2019.

They say he is linked to the killing by a bloodstained boot and his fingerprint which was found on a rail of her bed which had her blood on it.

Robinson, aged 35, of Seaview Road, Northam, denies murder and the theft. He says he was given permission to withdraw the cash and that someone else carried out the murder.

Kelly Cameron, who runs the Appledore-based Complete Quality Care agency, which employed Robinson to look after Mrs Hart, said she went to his house and suspended him as soon as she learned of the theft allegation.

She said she and manager Debbie Fowler visited Mrs Hart on Sunday January 10 to help her look for £2,000 or £3,000 which Robinson claimed to have left in an envelope upstairs.

She said they helped Mrs Hart up the stairs and made a fruitless search before taking her back downstairs and talking to her about her complaint.

She told them she had given Robinson her bank card to do small amounts of shopping but not given him permission to withdraw large sums of cash.

Miss Cameron said Mrs Hart told her Robinson had visited her shortly before 5.25 pm on the Friday, after being suspended and told not to go to her house.

She said there was some confusion about the time and whether Robinson’s visit was at 5.25 pm on Friday or 5.25 am the next morning.

Miss Cameron said: “She said when Michael came around, he was leaping about like an idiot. She said she told him to leave unless he had the money.”

Care manager Debbie Fowler said she met Mrs Hart after she made her allegation against him and she described him as ‘a bloody good conman’.

Carer Gemma Guppy, who was drafted in as Robinson’s replacement when he was suspended, said Mrs Hart told her that he had been back to see her on the Friday evening.

She said: “She told me he came round at 5.25 pm to say that he hadn’t done anything wrong and he had not taken the money. She was quite upset all weekend, not just about that.

“She said she told him to back off which she said he did and that she was not scared. She said he was crying and told her the money was upstairs and there was £4,000 in a top drawer.

“She said she told him not to come back unless he had the rest.”

Next door neighbour Stella Turner said she was woken by banging sounds from Mrs Hart’s home in the early hours of the morning.

She said she thought it may be ambulance paramedics because they had been called to the house on occasions in the past by Mrs Hart.

She did not know the exact time when she heard the noise but knew it was before she woke up again at 6.20 am on that Monday morning.