Northam Murder: Accused carer had been vetted and trained in safeguarding

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

A carer accused of strangling a frail widow had been vetted and trained in safeguarding, a murder trial jury has been told.

Michael Robinson had been cleared to work by a criminal record check and had undergone an online course to qualify as a carer.

He is on trial at Exeter Crown Court accused of killing 77-year-old Carol Hart at her home in Northam three days after she had accused him of stealing thousands of pounds from her.

The prosecution say he went to her home in J H Taylor Drive in the early hours of Monday, January 11, this year and attacked her in her bed.

They say he beat her around the face and strangled her while pulling her out of bed and kicking her on the ground.

She suffered a broken neck through the strangulation and fractures to her jaw and eye socket and was found by a different carer later that morning.

Robinson was suspended by the Appledore based agency which he worked for on the previous Friday after Mrs Hart discovered that thousands of pounds were missing from her account.

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She accused Robinson of withdrawing the money from cashpoints after being given access to her bank card and PIN.

He had been her main carer for about six months before her death and was in a relationship with the care agency’s co-founder Michelle Cameron.

She had sold out to her sister Kelly in 2019 and she and Robinson had moved to Spain before being forced to return to Britain in the summer of 2020 because of the Covid epidemic.

Robinson, aged 35, of Seaview Road, Northam, denies murder and the theft of around £4,000 withdrawn from her account in November and December 2020.

He says he was given permission to withdraw the cash and that someone else carried out the murder.

He says there are innocent explanations for his bloody fingerprint being found on Mrs Hart’s bed and her blood being on the outside of a boot which had his DNA on the inside.

Kelly Cameron, who runs the Complete Quality Care agency, said she employed Robinson before he went to Spain with his sister and took them both on again when they returned.

She said he became the main carer for Mrs Hart, visiting her up to three times a day until he was suspended.

Miss Cameron said Robinson had first started working for the agency in 2019, and had undergone the usual Declaration and Barring Service checks to make sure he did not have a criminal record.

He was taken out by other carers for on-the-job training and completed online courses which included the administration of medication and safeguarding.

She said her agency had a policy that all financial transactions on behalf of clients must be recorded in the yellow-bound care log.

Miss Cameron said Robinson should not have been taking out money from Mrs Hart’s account and went to his house to suspend him as soon as she learnt of the complaint.

She said: “I was angry and asked him how he thought it was okay to withdraw money from a lady’s bank account. I asked him if he had receipts and he said no.

“I told him he was suspended and not to go near any of our service users while the police were investigating.”

Professional dog walker Simon Williams said he saw Mrs Hart every weekday when he picked up her two rescue greyhounds Ebby and Connie and noticed she was upset on the day she learnt money was missing from her account.

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