Northam Murder: Carer denies killing widow Carol Hart

Exeter Crown Court

Exeter Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A carer has denied killing a frail client who has accused him of stealing and told a jury he did not go to her home on the day of the killing.

Michael Robinson denied stealing money from 77-year-old Carol Hart and said he had been shocked and upset when he learnt of her death.

Robinson said forensic evidence found at her home in J H Taylor Drive, Northam, was there because he had been making three times a day care visits until he was suspended over the alleged thefts.

He told Exeter Crown Court that he was not the man who wore a size 12 work boot which was used to kick Mrs Hart in the attack.

He said a similar pair were kept at Mrs Hart’s home and he may have used them while walking her dogs.

Robinson said he had a good relationship with Mrs Hart and believed the issue over the missing money would be sorted out once it was investigated.

He denied having gambling or drug habits and said he did not have financial problems at the time of the killing.

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He said his partner Michelle Cameron used his bank account for gambling and he paid for his own drug use by selling small amounts of cannabis and cocaine to friends.

He said he had not left his home on the morning of the killing other than to take out an old microwave when the bin lorry was passing at around 7.15.

Robinson, aged 35, of Seaview Road, Northam, denies murder and the theft.

The prosecution allege he strangled, beat and kicked her to death in the early hours of Monday, January 11, this year, three days after he she complained about him withdrawing thousands of pounds from her account without permission.

They say Mrs Hart, who suffered from a spinal condition, a broken hip, and arthritis, was killed by Robinson after he went to her home to discuss the missing money.

The jury have been told that boot print, fingerprint and DNA evidence link him to the murder scene.

Robinson told the jury he had worked for Mrs Hart since the summer of 2020 and they got on well.

He said: “We got on very well. We were very close. I liked her. I did not kill Carol. I did not do it. I told her I would do anything that I could for her and I kept my word.

“I had no wish to hurt Carol. Not at all. I did not hurt her.

“I did not steal her money. I don’t know where it went. I’d always given her the money and always given her the card. I thought I was doing her a favour by withdrawing the money.”

He said she may have made a malicious complaint against him because he refused to leave the care agency to move into her house as a full-time carer.

Robinson said he did not steal any money but took it out of cashpoints using her card with her permission and handed it all to her.

He said she was saving it to buy him a second-hand car and to pay him to restore her garden when the weather improved. She kept it in an envelope upstairs and he did not know why it was not found after her death.

Robinson said there were innocent explanations for the forensic evidence which has been alleged against him.

He said his fingerprint, found on her bed with her blood on it, may have got there when he changed a plaster on an injured toe when he was still caring for her.  

He said his DNA on one of her fingers and her DNA under his nails both got there when he was caring for her.

He told the jury a pair of size 12 boots were kept at Mrs Hart’s house to be used by dog walkers and he had worn them a couple of times.

He said he also wore similar boots while employed through an agency at a cosmetics factory in 2019. The agency supplied the boots and he returned them after finishing the job.

He said someone else must have been wearing them on the morning of the killing. He denied throwing them into the back of the dustcart later that morning and said rubbish from a large area of Bideford, Northam and Appledore was collected on the same round.

Earlier, the jury heard police interviews in which he said he had a ‘brilliant relationship’ with Mrs Hart.

He said: “Do you know what? She fell in love with me. We had a brilliant relationship and I started taking her dogs out. She offered to pay me and give me birthday money but I said no.

“Everything was amazing, she was like a grandmother to me and I was like a grandson to her. It was really good. We got on really well.

“I haven’t done it. I haven’t seen Carol since Friday. Someone has done this to her. I loved that woman to bits.”

The trial continues.

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