Northampton carer who pinched more than £7,000 from dying woman’s account is spared jail

Northampton Crown Court
Northampton Crown Court

A home carer from Northampton who stole more than £7,000 from her terminally ill patient’s bank account was spared jail after showing ‘genuine remorse’ for her crimes.

Elke Hemmersbach, of Hood Street, appeared at Northampton Crown Court yesterday having already pleaded guilty to the charge of fraud by abuse of position at a court hearing in December.

The court heard how the 48-year-old was one of a team of people charged with the round-the-clock care of a now-deceased elderly woman in Northampton.

But between March 25 and the pensioner’s death, aged 83, on June 13, Hemmersbach made 52 separate cash withdrawals using the woman’s bank card, stealing a total of £7,411.

However, after hearing the results of a probation report, which suggested out-of-work Hemmersbach had suffered a tough upbringing in Germany and had showed remorse for her actions, judge James Guthrie decided not to send her to prison.

Sentencing her he said: “You pleaded guilty to a most unpleasant offence committed against an elderly woman who you were trusted to look after.

“Such a breach of trust must normally lead to a sentence of imprisonment - and I would not have hesitated to impose such a sentence immediately if it were not for a number of reasons explained to me by the probation service.

“I believe you do feel great remorse for what you did.”

Judge Guthrie handed Hemmersbach a six-month prison sentence, suspended for one year, and 100 hours of unpaid work.

Prosecuting, Lynsey Knott said the fraud was discovered when the victim’s next of kin - a niece from Ireland - came to Northampton to close her aunt’s accounts.

She found transactions were still being made on the account after the woman’s death and had also noticed bank cards missing from the elderly woman’s handbag.

Defending for Hemmersbach yesterday, Steven Evans said the carer had ‘unresolved personal issues’ relating to a difficult upbringing in her native Germany.

She had fled the country aged 16, he said, and lived on the streets in London for a period before training as a carer.

He added “She could not complain about an immediate custodial sentence.

“But this is not a straight forward situation - in fact prison is only likely to exacerbate her situation.”