A carer found guilty of fraud after stealing thousands of pounds from three elderly victims that she befriended in St Albans and Hatfield has been sentenced at St Albans Crown Court today (Friday March 15).
Sixty-year-old Carolyn McClune, also known as Carolyn Bouvier, of High Street in Redbourn, was found guilty following an eight week trial at St Albans Crown Court on Friday (March 1) and today was sentenced to five years and nine months in custody.
She was charged with four counts of fraud after the Crown Prosecution Service heard she intended to benefit from more than £126,000 that belonged to three elderly and vulnerable victims.
The crimes were committed between 2013 and 2016 while McClune was employed as a care worker.
Speaking after the sentencing Detective Constable Lee Hill from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Safeguarding Adults from Abuse (SAFA) team said: “McClune gained the trust of elderly vulnerable people. She became a valued carer and friend, before deceiving them and stealing their pensions and life savings.
“This eight week trial came at the end of a complex fraud investigation spanning over three years. I would like to thank the witnesses and the jury for their service in this difficult and demanding case.”
He continued: “She was a carer for the two female victims and befriended the male victim. Sadly, two of McClune’s victims have since died and one is now living in a nursing home in poor health.
“We thoroughly investigated complex the financial arrangements that McClune had put in place to deceive people who had put their trust in her. We don’t know what she did with the money as she does not have a lavish lifestyle but it’s possible she has invested it or passed it on to family or friends. If she comes into money in the future, it will be subject to another court hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).”
The SAFA investigation was carried out in liaison with a financial investigator from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU).
The financial investigator, during her enquiries, discovered McClune had at least 11 bank accounts at seven different banks.
The original trial took place in May 2018 but the jury had to be disbanded when the second victim died of natural causes during the court case.
The court heard that the main victim was a woman who lived in St Albans.
Self-employed McClune, who worked under her company name of Blue Bell Care, became her sole carer in 2014, when the woman was aged 85.
McClune made online transfers of more than £44,000 from this victim’s bank account into her own account, on the pretence that it was payment for a new kitchen.
But the court heard the kitchen only cost £9,000.
McClune also withdrew thousands of pounds of the victim’s cash for herself.
The prosecution said that between September 1, 2014 and August 31, 2015, the defendant stole £88,613.32 from this woman.
DC Hill said: “In just one year, McClune defrauded this elderly woman of over £88,000. The victim died the day before her 87th birthday in November 2015.”
Prior to meeting the 85-year-old woman, the court heard how McClune left her job at a care agency in 2013 and moved in with an 82-year-old woman in Hatfield.
The defendant became her live-in carer, and fraudulently withdrew £9,044.00 in cash from the woman’s bank account.
This victim moved to a Hatfield care home in May 2016 but McClune continued to withdraw more than £300 from the woman’s bank account for herself before she was arrested in December 2016.
DC Hill said: “This demonstrates the sort of person McClune is. She was stealing from someone who trusted her to look after her and take care of her financial affairs whilst she was in the care home.”
The third victim – a man from St Albans – was aged 69.
He was vulnerable and needed daily visits from a care agency.
He described McClune as a friend.
Before he met McClune, he rarely went out but she took him on shopping trips, where he liked to buy DVDs.
This victim had previously worked for 22 years at a well-known local firm and when his pension was due, McClune helped him open a joint bank account in both their names.
McClune forged the victim’s signature on the back of three cheques payable to the victim, before paying the cheques into their joint bank account.
One of the cheques was a lump sum from his pension company for £27,548.32.
She then made large cash withdrawals for herself and transferred thousands of pounds to her own bank accounts.
He died in May 2018.
“Before he died, this vulnerable man said he trusted McClune and thought she was his friend. He said in interview that he felt upset and angry and could have done with the money to help pay his bills.
“I am pleased that McClune has been found guilty and we have been able to stop her from taking advantage of any other elderly and vulnerable people in the future.”
Prosecuting Barrister Jack Talbot described Carolyn McClune as “devious, deceptive and dishonest” and that she saw the victims as “low hanging fruit, too tempting to resist.”
His Honour Judge Stephen Warner described McClune’s offences as ‘cynical’ and ‘mean’ that were motivated by greed.