Cheating carers face jail over £500,000 burger van scam on Dales widow

A MOTHER and daughter face jail after being found guilty of defrauding a wealthy 92-year-old widow out of £500,000 in a bogus care scam that involved setting up a burger van on the drive of her Dales home.

Wendy Bell (left) and her daughter Lisa. Pictures: Ross Parry Agency

Wendy and Lisa Bell “milked” Parkinson’s sufferer Audrey Hammond out of the fortune while acting as her carers.

They were described by a prosecutor as having “grossly over-claimed” for work carried out, as well as using the house’s drive as “a base for a burger van business”.

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A jury at Bradford Crown Court took five hours and 22 minutes to deliver the verdict.

The home of Audrey Hammond

Wendy Bell, 57, was convicted of conspiracy to defraud and a further charge of fraud by making false representations to Mrs Hammond’s Power of Attorney solicitor Myron Handzij.

Lisa Bell, 30, was also found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the woman who lives in Cracoe near Skipton.

The two sat emotionless in the dock as the jury gave their unanimous verdicts, while co-defendant Helen Banks, 42, was hugged by Lisa Bell and asked to go home as she was found not guilty of conspiracy to defraud.

The verdicts ended a three-week trial in which the jury heard how the Bells, alongside Amanda Carroll, 44, Linda Mynott, 60, Caron Gilbert, 33 and Alice Barker, 59, all overcharged the nonagenarian for poor and sometimes uncompleted care between 2010 and 2012.

The four all admitted their part in the scam while Carroll also pleaded guilty to a further fraud charge of misrepresentation to solicitor Mr Handzij.

Prosecutor Stephen Wood said in the trial opening how Carroll and Bell recruited “friends and family” who had no care qualifications to look after the frail widow.

He said: “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.”

“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.

Mr Wood added: “Mrs Hammond’s house was used as a base for a burger van business.”

Following the verdict, Judge Colin Burn said: “You have been convicted at the end of this lengthy trial of serious matters, particularly you Wendy Bell.”

Addressing Bell senior, he added: “A custodial sentence is absolutely unavoidable. In any event the offending passes the custodial threshold. It is most important you co-operate with probation services until then.”

The two were bailed until next month when they will be sentenced alongside Carroll, Gilbert, Mynott and Barker for conspiring to defraud.