Denise Newson, 67 was dying from a long term illness, her carer Debra became one of the family, but she betrayed a dying woman's trust. Her daughter Lisa Fletcher, 37 tells the story…
“Are you off to work now?” mum Denise said.
“Yes, sadly I can't stay with you all the time, I have to earn a living.” I replied.
“It's ok I have Debra to look after me, she is a god send. I don't know what I would do without her.” Mum said.
“I know, she is like one of the family.” I said.
At that time we had no idea what type of a person Debra Thompson, 21 was, she was my mum's full time carer. Debra did five days a week, working from 8 in the morning until 8 in the evening.
My mum had retired at the age of 60 from a job as a nurse. She had been a nurse since she left school, for over forty years she looked after other people. Mum had dedicated her life to care for others and wanted best for each individual she met inside and outside of her profession.
But in 2006, she started to get strange neurological problems. She was originally diagnosed with Parkinson's, which was ironic as she had spent the last decade working with elderly people suffering from the same disease.
But the disease was progressing too quickly and in April 2012 she was rightly diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy, a rare and brutal progressive neurological disease, which would eventually kill her.
Mum was in need of constant care as she was becoming increasingly immobile, she had divorced from my father back in the 90's
Sadly me brother Lee, 43 and I just couldn't provide 24-hour care for her. Lee has three children and his own business. I am married to my partner of five years and I have a job in Purchasing, which means I work long hours.
She also wanted to maintain privacy and role as our mum so wanted to carer took look after her. She felt It wasn't appropriate for Lee and I to undertake some of the tasks a full-time carer would have to
Mum first met Debra in a residential home where she stayed for a couple of weeks. Debra was working was working there. It turns out the care company had already earmarked Debra to look after my mum at home.
I think it was just coincidence that she worked there. But she had already struck a relationship with mum and they were very friendly, I really liked her from the start.
In August 2012 she came to work in mum's house. We liked her but we still kept an eye on her, like anyone would with a stranger in the house.
But quickly she won us all over, especially mum. We also loved it when she was there, she was kind, caring and attentive. She got on with Lee's kids, mum's sisters, all we all really liked her and trusted her.
Debra would look after mum's personal care, which was hard for my mum to accept that someone had to shower and take her to toilet. Mum he was only in her 60's and Debra made sure she didn't feel helpless.
She would take her for coffee and walks; with mum was in a wheel chair, which was beyond the call of duty.
As every week passed Debra became more and more part of the family, she became a confidant with my brother and I. She was shoulder to cry on, as it was hard for us to come to terms with, she was almost like a counsellor.
I would tell her a lot about how I felt. I treated her as a friend and so did Lee. She intertwined herself with our family, she was never treated as an employee she was treated with respect. We constantly told her how appreciative she was.
Within a month or so mum decided to give Debra her access to her bank cards as and when required. It helped Debra pay for the household chores, shopping etc. she didn't want to have to wait for Lee and I to come home and to bring in food and cash. Most in house carers are trusted in the same way
So between October 2012 and June of 2013 she had access to mum's money.
Then in May 2013, mum alerted Lee that she had lost one of her bank cards, we just assumed it must be in her home, maybe down the side of the chair. It didn't even cross our mind anything untoward had happened to her.
But mum suspected something wasn't right and got Debra to cancel her credit and debit, which Debra did in front of her.
Over the next few weeks mum kept asking why her new card had not turned up. Then we got a letter form bank and council tax to say it hasn't been paid and mum was overdrawn.
Lee opened checked her accounts and she had no money. She had literally nothing.
We knew something bad had happened and we called the police
Debra was on her day off and didn't answer calls or texts, which was out of character. She would always respond to me.
When the police officer arrived, he said all the evidence was pointing at her.
Then the police man found her cards had been used since the date Debra allegedly cancelled it. They even gave us a list of transactions. It was obvious the phone call to cancel her cards was a hoax
The shock was immeasurable. How could someone you trust do that to you?
We had been so scared about having carers and though we had this perfect person, so mum could end her life with the maximum amount of dignity. But she was a thief, nothing more nothing less.
Mum was terrified, she kept repeating
“Why? Why? Why didn't she talk to me? I thought she cared about me?” She said.
“I don't know mum, I wish I could tell you,” I said, there really was no way to comfort her, she had been betrayed.
Debra was arrested in June 2013. The Police needed time to get evidence together wasn't charged for a couple of months.
All this time mum was getting weaker and weaker. It was so hard to accept, but she didn't have long to live.
Mum was in state of permanent anxiety and fear, leaving her vulnerable and not being able to trust anyone. Debra had a key and knew the alarm combination. Mum was petrified to be in house on her own.
All we knew is that mum's entire life savings of 35 thousand pounds had been stolen, leaving her with nothing.
In the run up to xmas 2013, mum had nothing left, and tragically she passed away in December. In the final days she said:
“I've had enough now, I feel beaten.”
To begin with Debra pleaded not guilty so the case dragged on, but as the evidence against her mounted up, it left her no choice and in February 2014 she finally pleaded guilty. Mum never lived to see justice served.
Naturally the family was devastated by everything that had happened. But one of the hardest things we had to do was tell Lee's kids. They loved Debra and when we told them she had done something bad to their gran, they couldn't believe it. We had to tell them there are bad people in the world. It broke our hearts and made them cry.
We were devastated. Mum was dying and all we wanted was to make her last months on this earth comfortable, instead she was stressed, angry and more importantly let down by someone she trusted. Someone she genuinely liked.
In court we found out that between October 2012 and June of 2013 Debra embarked on what was described as a “spending spree.”
She squandered my mum's life savings and pension on shopping, meals out and she was withdrawing maximum daily cash allowance. We don't know what she did with the cash. For all we know she could have stashed it somewhere.
I trusted her totally and she betrayed us. She was sent to prison for 18 months but, I think she deserved to be locked up for longer, we feel that she should have got an extended prison term. But no sentence could repay the precious time she stole from the last time of mum's life.
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