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Yalding mum stole £8k from pensioner and spent it on Simply Be, Just Eat and iTunes

A heartless carer left a disabled pensioner in debt and suffering a suspected mini-stroke when she used his debit card to splurge on clothes, food and music.

Christina Bloomfield spent more than £8,000 with the likes of women's clothing company Simply Be, as well as Just Eat and iTunes while looking after the man, who was in his 70s and lived alone.

Christina Bloomfield narrowly avoided jail
Christina Bloomfield narrowly avoided jail

The extent of her deceit only came to light after the victim received a letter from debt collectors informing him of an outstanding payment with the fashion chain.

He later told police that he "never believed" Bloomfield would take advantage of him in such a way, having known her for many years and being a childhood friend of his son's.

A court heard the 43-year-old even continued to spend on his card despite his request for it to be returned when he replaced her with another carer.

Bloomfield, of Kenward Road, Yalding, initially claimed when interviewed by police as long ago as August 2019 that the pensioner had given her permission to make her own purchases.

She also said it was she who had ended their weekly caring arrangement and suspected her replacement was the one "taking advantage" of him, Maidstone Crown Court was told.

But, having denied any crime and facing a trial, the mum-of-three eventually pleaded guilty in March this year to fraud by false representation, accepting she had helped herself to £8,500 of the gentleman's money between October 2015 and March 2018.

At her sentencing hearing on Wednesday (May 22), prosecutor Bridget Todd told Maidstone Crown Court that Bloomfield, then known by the surname Odumosu, had agreed in September 2014 to act as the victim's unofficial carer.

He had several ailments including diabetes and a brain abscess, and needed assistance with cleaning, shopping and cooking.

‘It was something she shouldn't have done....Essentially she took advantage.’

It was therefore arranged that she would visit him every Monday, for which she would be paid a "modest" £30.

As part of the arrangement, Bloomfield was also given the man's HSBC card and PIN.

Within a few months he had agreed to lend her as much as £1,000 after she asked to borrow money.

But it was not until his bank contacted him about a purchase for ladies' clothing that he became concerned, the court heard.

"This prompted him to ask the defendant a few questions and to ask her to provide mini statements from the cashpoint but she kept 'forgetting' to bring them," said Miss Todd.

"In due course, he received a quarterly statement and saw a number of unexpected transactions.

"But, rather than confronting the problem, he decided to change carers."

The court was told that Bloomfield was asked to return his bank card but she claimed not to know where it was.

Christina Odumosu/Bloomfield, of Kenward Road, Yalding avoided jail after she pleaded guilty in March this year to fraud by false representation
Christina Odumosu/Bloomfield, of Kenward Road, Yalding avoided jail after she pleaded guilty in March this year to fraud by false representation

After it was finally handed back, it was discovered it had been used for "at least" one more transaction.

However, it was not until April 2019 that police were contacted.

"He went to police when he received a debt collectors' letter from the ladies' clothing company, Simply Be," explained the prosecutor.

"An investigation started and it transpired the defendant had opened an account in his name but had registered her own home address and purchased items of clothing.

"The victim went through his bank statements and identified multiple transactions he had not authorised or was not the beneficiary of.

"He estimates that she spent over £8,500 on his card."

The pensioner recalled having gone through some of his statements with Bloomfield at the time and she had suggested she owed "relatively small amounts" and would pay him back.

"This did not reflect what she was spending on his bank card," added Miss Todd.

The court heard that Bloomfield also made purchases with online gaming websites and stores such as Costcutter and Asda.

The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court
The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court

When interviewed by police however she had denied accruing debts in his name.

"The defendant said the complainant had given her permission to use the card for her own purposes and some transactions were also made on his behalf," said the prosecutor.

"She claimed she ended the (caring) agreement because she suspected the new carer was taking advantage of him."

In an impact statement read to the court, the victim described how the fraud had affected his health, finances, and emotional well-being.

"He says 'I would never have believed that Christina, after all these years and all this trust, would do this to me,'," Miss Todd said.

"He also says he had never been in debt before, bills had been mounting, he was in arrears and it worries him.

"He even suspected he had suffered a mini stroke in response."

Of the money lent to Bloomfield in 2014, the victim said only about £60 was ever repaid.

Eve George, defending, said Bloomfield's deceit occurred at a time when she was in an "unhappy" marriage with "lots of debts" owed by her then husband.

"She is remorseful, didn't attempt to justify her actions in any way and accepts she overstepped the mark," added the barrister.

"It was something she shouldn't have done....Essentially she took advantage."

‘He had no reason not to trust you…’

Urging the court not to send Bloomfield to prison, Miss George added that as well as her client's children all being of school age, she was a full-time carer for her mother.

She also said Bloomfield could make a "hefty contribution" to any compensation awarded by the court as she was owed a £3,000 lump sum from the Department of Work and Pensions.

The court heard she has a previous conviction for fraud in 2009, as well as two cautions for similar offences that same year.

But in respect of her latest dishonesty, Judge Gareth Branston said that although she had committed a "sustained and serious abuse of trust", immediate custody was "not the only way to punish" her.

He added he had also considered the impact sending her to prison would have on others.

However, on imposing a 16-month jail term suspended for two years, Judge Branston told Bloomfield she had targeted her victim on the basis of his vulnerability.

"He had no reason not to trust you. You had been friends with his son from a very young age and he had known you a very long time," he said.

"He rarely checked his bank statements because he trusted you and between October 2015 and March 2018 it is clear, and you now accept, you used his debit card to make purchases for your own benefit without his permission.

"He never would have believed you would do this to him....He is in debt like he has never been in debt before....You took advantage."

Bloomfield was ordered to pay compensation in the full amount of £8,500, with £3,000 by the end of July and £200 a month thereafter.

She must also carry out 240 hours of unpaid work and 10 rehabilitation activity requirements.

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