Carers ‘stole £500,000’ from Parkinson’s victim in Dales - they ‘ran burger van business’ from her luxury home

Wendy Bell (left) and her daughter Lisa. Pictures: Ross Parry Agency
Wendy Bell (left) and her daughter Lisa. Pictures: Ross Parry Agency
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A WEALTHY Parkinson’s victim was milked of half a million pounds by greedy ‘carers’ who moved into her home and ran a burger van business from it, a jury heard yesterday.

Widow Audrey Hammond, 91, was preyed on for two years by a group of seven women with no qualifications who lined their own pockets instead, it was said.

The home of Audrey Hammond

The home of Audrey Hammond

A court heard that the women moved into her Grade-II listed home while they siphoned hundreds of thousands from her life savings and pension pot.

The Dales property in Cracoe, nr Skipton, was used as the base for a burger van business as the women and their accomplices moved in.

Computers were bought for staff who ate well, carpets were damaged by spilled cosmetics and expensive-looking cars were seen parked outside.

On one occasion one of the accused arrived late in a BMW for a morning shift still wearing full make-up, mini-skirt and high heels.

Another time she was caught sleeping as she sunbathed outside.

Wendy Bell, 56, her daughter Lisa, 30, and Helen Banks, 42, all from Bradford, deny conspiracy to defraud.

The jury at Bradford Crown Court heard four other women - Amanda Carroll, 44, Alice Barker, 59, Linda Mynott, 60, and 32-year-old Caron Gilbert - had admitted their parts in the ‘grotesque’ two-year conspiracy.

They cashed grossly-inflated cheques for poor care they provided between 2010 and 2012.

Prosecuting, Stephen Wood said: “If you were to ask me to encapsulate, in one word, what the prosecution say this case is all about, I would say it is all about ‘greed’.

“Each of them was charged with the responsibility of caring for an elderly and frail lady, who, through debilitating illness, was not capable of managing her own affairs.

“She was however - and these defendants knew it - a very wealthy lady and these defendants with others have breached the trust reposed in them to simply ‘milk’ from her over half a million pounds by grossly over-claiming for the care work which they did.”

Mr Wood told how Mrs Hammond filed a power of attorney in 2003 at the onset of her illness.

It left the strings of her purse to a solicitor after she inherited her family and late husband’s coal merchant fortune.

Mr. Wood said that Bell and Carroll were “recruited” by Mrs Hammond and they in turn recruited their family and friends to care for her.

But instead of looking after her they conned her by overcharging thousands of pounds, providing lousy levels of care without submitting CRB checks.

Mr Wood said: “Not one of these family or friends who were appointed as carers for Mrs Hammond had any qualification to provide care for a patient with Parkinson’s disease and thus knowledge of her particular needs.

“Mrs Hammond’s house was used as a base for a burger van business. Computers were bought for staff and they ate well.

“Carpets were damaged by spilled cosmetics. An expensive looking Mitsubishi Shogun was parked on Mrs Hammond’s drive.”

He told how Lisa Bell once turned up straight from a night out in a BMW and on a later occasion was caught asleep whilst sunbathing outside.

Mr. Wood added: “What was going on here was that Mrs Hammond was simply being taken advantage of.

“These defendants - particularly Amanda Carroll and Wendy Bell - thought they were utterly untouchable.”

He described how the widow’s fortune claimed by “grotesque overpayments” was transferred through multiple, unsuspecting relatives’ accounts to avoid suspicion.

Wendy Bell, for example, was allegedly overpaid by #138,620 between 2010 and 2012, while Amanda Carroll stole #225,850 for her own use.

He said: “The idea that these monies were genuinely earned or reflect actual earnings is preposterous.”

Carroll, Barker, Mynott and Gilbert all admitted their part in the scam at previous hearings. Co-accused Edward Barker, 57, has been deemed unfit for trial.

The trial continues.