Carer accused of murdering Northam pensioner who accused him of theft

Exeter Crown Court

Exeter Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A frail pensioner was allegedly strangled and beaten to death by a carer who had just been accused of stealing thousands of pounds from her bank account.

Carol Hart was found at her home in Northam, North Devon, just days after she discovered that carer Michael Robinson had been using her bank card to withdraw large sums cashpoint machines.

Robinson is alleged to have attacked the 77-year-old after going back to her house when he had been suspended by his employers and ordered not to go there.

Mrs Hart needed regular visits from carers because she was recovering from a broken hip and had severe mobility issues.

She was attacked in a bed which had been moved into the ground floor living room on the night of Sunday January 10 this year or the early hours of the next morning.

She was found by a stand-in carer who found her dead on the floor. She had been murdered in a ‘brutal and vicious’ attack which left her with 59 different injuries, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Robinson, aged 35, of Seaview Road, Northam, denies murder and the theft of £4,000 withdrawn from her account in November and December 2020.

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Miss Jo Martin, QC, prosecuting, said Robinson was employed as a carer by Bideford-based Complete Quality Care (CQC) to visit Mrs Hart three times a day and also helped walk her two rescue greyhounds at weekends.

She said Mrs Hart was found dead at her home in JH Taylor Drive, Northam, at 11.15 am on Monday, January 11.

Miss Martin said: “There is no doubt she was murdered. Whoever killed her not only strangled her with such force that the bones in her neck were broken, she was also badly beaten.

“Her jaw bone and eye socket were fractured and whoever killed her had punched her extensively and kicked her when she was on the ground and may have used a weapon.

“The pathologist found 59 separate injuries. Whoever killed her started the assault when she was in bed and continued it when she was pulled or fell to the floor. It must have been a brutal and sustained attack.  

“She tried to defend herself but could not. She was frail and largely housebound and in need of visits from regular carers and people to walk her dogs and do her shopping.

“So, who did kill Mrs Hart? The crown says the evidence all points in only one way and points to Michael Robinson.”

Miss Martin said Robinson’s partner Michelle Cameron was a co-founder of CQC but was bought out by her sister Kelly in 2019. Robinson and Michelle had moved to Spain but returned in 2020 because of the Covid emergency.

By November, he was working for Kelly Cameron at CQC and became Mrs Hart’s carer, recording his visits meticulously in a yellow book used as a care log.  

He was caught on CCTV repeatedly withdrawing up to £500 a day from her bank account at an ATM in Costcutter in Northam from November 20, 2020 until December 26.

Miss Martin said Mrs Hart discovered that up to £5,600 was missing from her account when another carer withdrew cash legitimately to pay for shopping and brought her back a receipt that included a balance.

Mrs Hart’s other regular carer informed the agency and called the police two days before the killing. Mrs Hart was said to be upset and told Kelly Cameron that she had no authorised the withdrawals.

Robinson was suspended and banned by the agency from returning but did so on the Friday night, when he told her some of the missing cash was in an envelope upstairs.

He also rang the police to say he had withdrawn £2,000 at Mrs Hart’s request to pay for garden work.

Miss Martin said Mrs Hart was last seen alive by a carer at 9.05 pm on Sunday January 10 and found dead at 11.15 am on the Monday.

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