A care worker from Kenya has been jailed after being convicted of stealing more than £50,000 from a woman in her 80s.
28-year-old Nairobi born Kisella Hillman abused her position as a carer for the 85-year-old Kathleen Brindle from Frome, who suffers from Alzheimer’s.
At Taunton Crown Court last month, Hillman was convicted of three counts of theft totalling £51,500 (Ksh 6.7million).
During her six day trial, Kisella denied charges of stealing the money belonging to the victim between November and December in 2013.
Prosecutor Nikki Coombe told Taunton Crown Court that Hillman had been employed to look after Mrs Brindle when she moved to live with her family in Mells, following the death of her son.
With her mental health deteriorating, Hillman was supposed to help maintain her quality of life, making sure she was eating and drinking and taking her out for shopping, lunch and social occasions.
After Hillman had been sacked for poor time keeping, an employee of the Brindle family noticed the transactions and withdrawals, but when arrested and interviewed by police, she told them the money had been given to her as a gift.
Giving evidence in her defence Hillman, who had studied Jazz at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, said she had originally started work as a nanny for the family before being asked to take on the role of caring for the woman.
She claimed she had spent some of the money on time in a recording studio, donating the rest to an orphanage in Kenya. However, at her sentencing she was unable to provide evidence of what had happened to the money.
Mitigating, Eiran Reilly told the court that due to the victim’s deteriorating mental health, the lasting effects of the thefts had little effect on her. She added that Hillman had no previous convictions and had previously been of exceptionally good character, working for a Kenyan charity.
The court heard how Hillman had ‘systematically helped herself to the money of a vulnerable woman she had been entrusted to look after.’
“This is a despicable crime against a very vulnerable victim.
“She systematically abused her position of trust to steal large amounts of money over the course of a month in 2013.
“This case illustrates that we all have a part to play in protecting the most vulnerable in our society.
“We will use all available resources to bring offenders to justice.” – Investigating officer DC Jon Hooper
Hillman was jailed for a total of two years on 19 May, and will also be subject to a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act in an attempt to recover some of the money she took.