A SCHEMING care worker who was jailed after defrauding three vulnerable elderly victims out of thousands of pounds has been ordered to sell her home to repay her ill-gotten gains.

Karen Kersey-Smith, 49, was a care worker in Ellesmere Port and stole more than £90,000 from three vulnerable victims between November 2015 and September 2017.

She was handed a 28-month jail term on June 4, 2020, at Liverpool Crown Court. On that sentencing day, the court heard that sadly, two of the victims – a 92-year-old woman and a man in his 60s with dementia – had passed away in between the time the offences had been committed and the case being sentenced in court.

A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing was also set up for Kersey-Smith, of Wheat Close in Gwersyllt in Wrexham, to repay what she defrauded.

But while police found Kersey-Smith had £15,500 in her bank account, an investigation found she had an equity share in her home.

Kersey-Smith was also suspected to have purposefully omitted her name from the title deed in order to avoid confiscation proceedings.

A Chester Crown Court Proceeds of Crime Act hearing therefore ordered Kersey-Smith to repay £80,415 from the sale of her house.

Detective Inspector Kelly-Ann Cain, from Cheshire Constabulary's Economic Crime Unit, said: “Kersey-Smith was jailed for exploiting her position as a care worker for Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) by stealing a total of over £90,000 from the bank accounts of three elderly victims.

“A lengthy investigation set about trying to recover as much money for the victims as possible.

“Officers successfully argued that Kersey-Smith had an equity share of the marital home and it was suspected she had purposefully omitted her name from title deed to avoid confiscation proceedings.

“Kersey-Smith was subsequently ordered to repay all available funds, which has caused the sale of her house.

“As a result, £80,415 will be paid back to the victims.

“This is a fantastic result for the victims with Kersey-Smith being made to pay back the proceeds of her crimes.”

Kersey-Smith, withdrew money from her vulnerable victims' bank accounts without their knowledge or permission.

She later claimed the majority of the money was put into charity boxes, mainly for cancer charities, following family trauma.

But financial records showed Kersey-Smith had splashed out on a £4,275 holiday for a family of five in Gran Canaria, and had put a deposit on a £6,480 family trip to Florida before she confessed her crime to her manager Simon Smith, telling him: "I think I have made a terrible mistake."

The money was found to have been withdrawn from the victims at an alarming rate.

One of the victims, 92-year-old Mary Adamson, had been living in Ellesmere Port and was moved to a care home.

In a victim personal statement, her grand-daughters said they visited her but she seemed very mistrustful and would take her handbag with her everywhere she went. Staff also said she was not eating.

They knew something was not right and even suspected the care staff at the home had been doing something wrong.

But after Ms Adamson passed away, they found a note in her handbag which said her social worker had been stealing from her.

They added they were "so sad that she passed away before her social worker came to trial", and knowing that she spent her final days in fear in mistrust of those around her.

Kersey-Smith had, in fact, used Ms Adamson's Post Office and bank accounts to steal £41,494.38 between November 2015 and September 2017, making numerous withdrawals at ATMs and post offices in Chester, Wrexham, Ellesmere Port and Neston.

A second victim, William Finter, had been staying at Atherton Lodge Care Home in Ellesmere Port in 2016. He had dementia.

Kersey-Smith used his bank card to make dozens of withdrawals between June 2016 and September 2017, stealing a total of £21,191.86.

Sadly, Mr Finter had since passed away, the court heard.

A third victim was an 86-year-old woman who had been living at a home in the Neston area before having to sell to move into a care home.

She had arthritis and macular degeneration. In her victim impact statement, she said Kersey-Smith was "her eyes" and "entrusted her".

Kersey-Smith had access to her bank card, which was to be used to buy small grocery items, such as a sandwich.

Instead, Kersey-Smith stole £27,642.74 from the vulnerable victim's account.

The victim, aged 88 at the time Kersey-Smith was sentenced, said in a victim impact statement read before the court in June 2020: "It has highlighted how vulnerable I am. I can't escape the fact that this could happen again."

She added Kersey-Smith's actions were "such a betrayal".

In total, Kersey-Smith had stolen £90,328.95 from her victims, whom Judge Simon Berkson remarked were "the most vulnerable in society."

Kersey-Smith said she had been "mortified, ashamed and disgusted" by her actions.