Thieving carer jailed after beating housebound pensioner to death

·4-min read
Robinson beat the 77-year-old to death  (Devon and Cornwall Police)
Michael Robinson beat a 77-year-old woman to death. (Devon and Cornwall Police)

A carer has been jailed for life after beating a housebound pensioner to death when she discovered he had been stealing from her.

Michael Robinson, 35, subjected Carol Hart, 77, to a sustained attack at her home in Northam, Devon, on 10 January.

Hart was found dead having suffered from 59 injuries, mostly to her head and face.

It came just days after she discovered Robinson had withdrawn large sums of money from her account at local cashpoints, Exeter Crown Court heard.

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Robinson, of Northam, was immediately suspended from his job and was ordered not to attend her home. 

But he ignored the order, travelling to her house late on the night of 10 January and beating and strangling her in her bed.

Hart was found by another carer at around 11am the next day. She was surrounded by broken, scattered objects including a table lamp.

The court heard that 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 Hart’s sole carer.

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.

Carol Harts was killed by her carer (Devon and Cornwall Police)
Carol Hart was killed by her carer. (Devon and Cornwall Police)

On New Year’s Eve last year, Hart discovered that thousands of pounds were missing from her bank account after having lent Robinson the card for a few errands.

The court heard how Hart was very upset that Robinson had abused her trust, having viewed him like a grandson.

After the police and care company were called, Robinson denied any wrongdoing. 

He claimed that he had withdrawn some of the money for gardening work at Hart’s behest and for a car she wanted to buy him.

When Robinson was arrested after her death, his right hand was injured but he claimed he had struck it against a door frame.

Rubbish retrieved from the bin collection linked to Robinson’s home included his black work boot covered in blood that matched Hart’s DNA.

A police investigation also found that Robinson was in debt and had gambling and drug habits. 

In his defence, he said that any money taken from Hart’s account was left upstairs in an envelope according to her instructions.

He also said he was home the night she was killed.

But Robinson 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 on Thursday and was sentenced to life in prison to serve a minimum of 30 years.

In a statement following today’s sentence, 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.

“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."

Detective Inspector Steph Blundell, from Devon and Cornwall Major Crime Investigation Team, 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."

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