Carer jailed for life for murder of Bideford pensioner

A carer has been jailed for life for the murder of a housebound Bideford pensioner who had accused him of stealing thousands of pounds from her.

Michael Robinson was today [30 July] sentenced by Exeter Crown Court to serve a minimum of 30 years for the brutal killing of 77-year-old Carol Hart in January.

Mrs Hart was found dead in her Northam home after being subjected to a sustained attack by 35-year-old Robinson. She had suffered 59 injuries, mostly to her head and face.

Exeter Crown Court was told that Robinson killed Mrs Hart just days after she discovered he had been using her bank card to withdraw large sums of money from her account via local cashpoints.

He had been immediately suspended from his job as a result and ignored an order not to attend Mrs Hart’s home in J.H. Taylor Drive. He attacked her in her bed on the night of Sunday 10 January this year or early the next morning.

Mrs Hart was found deceased by another carer on the morning of 11 January. She had been murdered in a sustained attack, having been beaten and strangled.

Robinson, of Seaview Road, Northam, pleaded not guilty to murder as well as the theft of £4,000 between November and December 2020. He was convicted by a jury at Exeter Crown Court yesterday [29 July] and today sentenced to life in prison to serve a minimum of 30 years.

The court heard that Mrs Hart had limited mobility and lived in a bedroom on the ground floor of her home. She needed a full care package due to her frailty.

Robinson worked for Complete Quality Care, a local home care company in Bideford, and became Mrs Hart’s sole carer on 26 October 2020. He visited her three times a day, seven days a week, helping with domestic chores and walking her two greyhound dogs but was not authorised to assist with shopping or her finances.

On New Year’s Eve 2020, Mrs Hart found that thousands of pounds were missing when another carer withdrew cash from her building society account and returned with a withdrawal and balance receipt.

Mrs Hart told the carer that Robinson had been using the card at her request to buy a few items but had not been providing a receipt. When challenged Robinson said he did not know that he needed to obtain a receipt, although this policy was clearly stated in the company staff handbook which he had signed.

Mrs Hart was very upset that Robinson had abused her trust and said that she viewed him like a grandson. She had been planning to ask him to be her full-time private carer and to move into her house.

The female carer informed the care agency and rang the police. Robinson was immediately suspended. He denied any wrongdoing, claiming that he had withdrawn some of the money for gardening work at Mrs Hart’s behest and for a car she wanted to buy him.

Mrs Hart said she had offered to lend him money for a car as she felt sorry that he had to walk from Westward Ho! In truth Robinson only lived a five-minute walk away.

Robinson was instructed to stay away from his clients but ignored the order not to return to Mrs Hart’s home. He claimed to have visited her on the evening of Friday 8 January and told her that the money was in a drawer upstairs. He said he would bring the rest of the money around. No money was found upstairs in subsequent searches.

Mrs Hart was last seen alive by her new carer around 9.15pm on Sunday 10 January.

Between 4.07am and 7.07am on Monday 11 January, the alarm system linked to Mrs Hart’s emergency panic button pendant lost power. A neighbour was also woken between 5am and 6am by ‘stomping’ noises which sounded like someone in Mrs Hart’s house.

Robinson was seen near his home address by refuse collectors on their rounds about 7.20am. He spoke with the workers he knew for a short time; he put bin bags directly into their truck.

Mrs Hart was located on the floor of her home by another carer around 11am that morning. She was surrounded by broken and scattered objects including a table lamp. The female carer commenced CPR before the ambulance crew arrived and pronounced her deceased.

Robinson was arrested on suspicion of theft later that day. His right hand was injured but he claimed he had struck it against a door frame.

He was further arrested on suspicion of murder on Tuesday 12 January. Rubbish retrieved from the bin collection linked to Robinson’s home included his black work boot covered in blood which matched Mrs Hart’s DNA.

A police investigation also found that Robinson was in debt and had gambling and drug habits. He was charged with murder and theft on 14 January.

In his defence he said that any money taken from Mrs Hart’s account was left upstairs in an envelope according to her instructions; he also maintained he had not seen her since early evening on Friday 8 January and he was at home when Mrs Hart was killed.

In a statement following today’s sentence, Mrs Hart’s family said: “We have sat through Robinson’s lies and have listened to him saying that he loved her and that she viewed him like a grandson. We have sat through descriptions of how badly he beat her. Because this man murdered her, she will never now be able to meet her four real grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We will never again be able to visit her and spend time with her.  

“No one deserves to have this happen to them. We now must live with what he has done to Carol – our sister, our mother. We must live with the memory of the violence he unleashed on her because he got caught stealing from her, because a man whose entire job was to care for her took her life brutally. 

“Carol always said she would live until she was 90 and she was such a feisty character we can well believe that would have happened if it had not been for Robinson. We are grateful for the tireless work of the police and the CPS in bringing this man to justice.”

Detective Inspector Steph Blundell, from Devon and Cornwall Major Crime Investigation Team, welcomed today’s sentence and said:

“Mrs Hart was shocked and upset when she discovered that Robinson had stolen the money from her. She trusted him and had grown very fond of him but he abused his position of trust and stole thousands of pounds from her for his own personal use.

“In order to silence her, he then viciously and cowardly attacked Carol in her own home while she lay defenceless in the hospital bed in her living room. Robinson attacked Carol, strangled her, and inflicted terrible head injuries, which led to her death.

“This has been a complex and protracted investigation which has drawn out Robinson’s lies and the attempts he made to explain away the evidence found against him. The thorough and detailed investigation led the jury to see his explanations for what they were; a fanciful tale of lies fabricated in order to get away with this most heinous of crimes.

“I would like to thank the prosecution team and the members of the public who came forward to assist the investigation and provide evidence in this case.

“I commend Carol’s family for the dignity they have demonstrated throughout the trial and express my deepest condolences for the loss they have suffered. I hope that today’s outcome will bring some comfort to them.”

Source:: Devon and Cornwall Police News

Serious collision, A386 Landcross.

Police are currently at the scene of a serious collision on the A386 near Landcross, Bideford.

The collision, involving two cars and a lorry, happened just before 11am today [30 July].

One man is seriously injured and two other people have sustained minor injuries.

Paramedics and the air ambulance are on scene, along with the fire service.

The road has been closed at the junction with the A388 and at Weare Giffard.

Motorists are asked to avoid the area as the A386 is expected to be closed for some time.

Source:: Devon and Cornwall Police News

Man jailed for killing baby daughter in 1976, Plymouth

A man has been jailed for killing his two-week-old baby daughter in Plymouth 45 years ago.

Terence McArthur, aged 67, of Walker Street, Rochdale, admitted the manslaughter of Tracy McArthur on 1 June 1976.

He was today [Friday 30 July] sentenced to nine years in prison by a judge at Exeter Crown Court.

The conviction is the result of a complex four-year enquiry led by Devon and Cornwall Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team.

It was launched following a referral by Greater Manchester Police in June 2017 when McArthur confessed his crime while he was being treated in hospital.

He told a nurse he had shaken and killed 14-day-old Tracy when she would not stop screaming, and that it had been considered a cot death at the time.  

McArthur, pictured, was arrested at his home address on Tuesday 11 August 2020.

Detective Inspector Stephanie Blundell, of the Major Crime Investigation Team, welcomed today’s sentence and said: “This has been a protracted and complex enquiry, undertaken over four years, regarding the unlawful killing of a two-week-old baby in 1976 by her father.

“The detailed and meticulous investigation gathered witness and medical evidence; the strength of which left McArthur with no choice but to plead guilty on 22 June, just two weeks prior to the scheduled trial. 

“I would like to pass my thanks to the witnesses in this case – who were ready and prepared to attend court to give their evidence – for their support and assistance to the investigation.

“In particular, I pass my thanks to Tracy’s family, who have demonstrated great patience, courage and understanding throughout the enquiry. I hope that today’s sentence helps to bring some closure to the tragic loss they have suffered.”

Linda Wilks, Tracy’s mother, said: “I would like to thank my family and friends for supporting me through all of this, and Devon and Cornwall police who have worked hard to get justice for Tracy after 45 years.”

Source:: Devon and Cornwall Police News

Special Constable found guilty of gross misconduct

On Tuesday 20 July 2021, a Special Constable was dismissed without notice from Devon and Cornwall Police after members of the misconduct panel found that his actions amounted to gross misconduct.

SC James Warren faced allegations that, on 4 November 2018, he breached the standards appropriate to the conduct of a police officer in respect of Honesty and Integrity.

It had been alleged that he provided a dishonest account on a vetting appeal regarding the particulars of a previous conduct allegation which resulted in management action.

Following a two-day public hearing, the panel concluded that the allegations were proven, and that SC Warren had breached the expected standards of professional behaviour.

The panel determined he would be dismissed without notice and his details will be submitted to the College of Policing Barred List, preventing him from working within policing.

Head of Professional Standards Detective Superintendent Paul Kessell said: “On this occasion the behaviour of the officer fell below the standards expected within policing.

“Through his actions, the officer undermined the public’s trust and confidence in the police force and did not fulfil his duties and responsibilities.

“Such behaviour will not be tolerated within policing and the decision made by the independent chair is that the officer is dismissed without notice.”

Source:: Devon and Cornwall Police News

Road Traffic Collision

On Thursday 29th July 2021 at approximately 1445hours Police Ambulance and Fire were called to a Road Traffic Collision on the A30 at Indian Queens.

Two vehicles were involved in the incident which caused serious injuries to one of the drivers. This driver was airlifted to Derriford Hospital by the Air Ambulance.

Officers attended the incident and commenced an investigation of the scene to establish the cause of the collision.

There was widespread traffic congestion in the area and Police would like to thank the members of public for their patience and co-operation.

Any witnesses who were in the area at the time of the collision who may have Dash Cam footage of the incident are asked to please telephone 101 quoting Log 518 29th July 2021.

Source:: Devon and Cornwall Police News

Fatal industrial incident, A30 Clyst Honiton

Police were called shortly after 12.25pm on Wednesday 28 July to the A30 westbound on slip at Exeter Airport.

Emergency service attended the scene where a man was reported to have become trapped underneath a Light Goods Vehicle.

As a result of the incident a man in his 60s sustained significant injuries and was pronounced deceased at the scene. His next of kin have been informed.

The Health and Safety Executive have been informed of the incident.

Police are appealing for witnesses to the incident and anyone with information to contact officers on 101 quoting log 394 28/07/21.

Source:: Devon and Cornwall Police News

Fatal collision, A386 near Bideford

Police were called shortly before 10.50pm on Wednesday 28 July to the A386 at Loxdown Cross following reports of a single vehicle collision.

As a result of the collision, the driver of a black BMW 1 series, a man in his 20s, sustained serious injuries and was pronounced deceased at the scene.

His next of kin have been informed and are being supporting by specially trained officers.

Specialist officers from Devon and Cornwall’s Roads Policing team attended the collision and an investigation has commenced. 

Highways England remain at the scene and the road is closed at this time.

Police are appealing for any witnesses to the collision and anyone who may have dash cam footage having driven through the area during the evening.

Investigating officers would like any witnesses to come forward and content police on 101 quoting log number 1090 28/07/21.

Source:: Devon and Cornwall Police News

Serious assault, Plymouth

Police investigating a serious assault in the Mutley area of Plymouth, which has left a 19-year-old man in a critical condition in hospital, are appealing for information.

The incident happened in North Hill, outside of the Unity Lets premises, between 1.45am and 2am on Saturday 17 July.

It was reported that the victim, Callum Turner, who is pictured, was punched and knocked unconscious by an unknown person.

He sustained a serious head injury and has undergone surgery at Derriford Hospital, where he remains in a critical condition.

Detectives investigating the incident are appealing for witnesses, or anyone who was in the area at the time, to contact them.

Officers have released an image of Callum, with his family’s blessing, in the hope that anyone who saw him in North Hill will come forward.

Anyone with information is urged to call police on 101, or email [email protected], quoting crime reference CR/060049/21.

Information can also be passed anonymously to independent charity Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555111, or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

Source:: Devon and Cornwall Police News

Assault, Barnstaple

Police investigating reports of two assaults in Barnstaple on Thursday 15 July, at around 3.40pm, are appealing for any witnesses to come forward.

A man and woman were both knocked unconscious and sustained injuries, including the woman sustaining a facial injury, at a property in John Gray Road, in an altercation with two men.

It is thought the handle of an axe was used in the reported assault but it has not been found.

It is thought there may have been other people in the vicinity at the time and officers would like anyone who witnessed the incident or has any information which could assist police enquiries to get in touch.

The axe is described as being homemade, with a dark wooden handle and a dark silver blade which looked tarnished and used.

A 32-year-old local man was arrested on suspicion of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault.

A 30-year-old local man was arrested on suspicion of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, common assault and possession of a class B drug.

Both have been released on police bail, pending further enquiries, to return on Thursday 12 August.

If you have any information that could help the police with their enquiries, please email [email protected] or call 101, quoting crime reference CR/059561/21.

Alternatively, information can be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or via the charity’s website at www.crimestoppers-org.uk

Source:: Devon and Cornwall Police News

Dedication ceremony to commemorate National Police Memorial

Today (28 July), a dedication ceremony was held for the new UK Police Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, to remember those brave officers and colleagues who have served their communities and tragically lost their lives.

To commemorate the dedication locally, today a memorial tree was planted by Devon and Cornwall’s Assistant Chief Constable Steve Parker in the memorial garden at the Police Headquarters in Middlemoor, Exeter. The service was led by the Force lead chaplain Rev Jonathon Ross-McNairn.

PCC Alison Hernandez and ACC Julie Fielding also planted a memorial tree at Bodmin station with the service lead by Force chaplain Sarah Jeffrey.

From Wednesday 28 July to Sunday 1 August there will also be an illumination on to the front of Middlemoor and Bodmin Police station in memory of officers and staff who have lost their lives.

Chief Constable ShaunSawyer attended the national ceremony alongside a bereaved family of one of the Force’s officers. Members of the royal family, the prime minister and other politicians were also in attendance.

He said: “This commemoration marks our tribute to the brave officers and colleagues who have served their communities and tragically lost their lives. We will continue to remember them and their selfless devotion to duty, as they leave behind a lasting legacy.

“Locally, it is important that we also mark this important occasion which is why we have held tree planting ceremonies in Devon and Cornwall.”

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “It’s a real honour to be marking this moment by planting the memorial tree at Bodmin Police Station.  This landmark will live on for generations and act as a constant reminder of the sacrifices of those who came before us.

“It will leave a legacy for Devon and Cornwall and ensure that those who paid the ultimate price will not be forgotten.”

The dedication ceremony of the new UK Police Memorial was a one-off event on 28 July at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. Its purpose is to remember our policing colleagues who have died and honour the courage and sacrifice of those members of the UK Police Service who have dedicated their lives to protecting others.

In light of public health in respect of COVID-19, staff, officers, and volunteers were encouraged not to gather, but instead watched the national ceremony via a livestream link.

 

 

Source:: Devon and Cornwall Police News