Blind pensioner left to starve by his cruel ‘carer’
10:10am Saturday 2nd March 2013 in News
A “FAMILY friend” left a frail, blind pensioner to starve while she plundered his bank account to boost her collection of DVDs and CDs, a court heard.
Fiercely independent 81-year-old Frank Kilfoyle only came to the attention of social services after he appealed to them, in desperation, for food.
Social workers were appalled when they visited his bare, ground floor flat in Camden House, Enfield Close, Bolton, to find him unkempt, no food in the kitchen and a stack of unpaid bills.
It then came to light that 31-year-old Lisa Foster, who Mr Kilfoyle had known since she was a child, regarded as a friend and was supposed to be acting as his unofficial carer, had been helping herself to cash from his bank account and even using his details to buy goods from HMV and iTunes over the internet.
Yesterday she was told she had avoided being jailed “by the skin of her teeth”.
And Mr Kilfoyle’s family say they believe Foster’s heartless crimes “hastened his death”.
Neil Fryman, prosecuting, told Bolton Crown Court that between January, 2010 and November, 2011 Foster helped herself to almost £8,000 of Mr Kilfoyle’s money.
Foster, of Spa Road, Bolton, was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years and will have to wear an electronic tag and be subject to a 8pm to 6am curfew.
She was also ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work.
But Mr Kilfoyle was not in court to see justice being done — he died in January last year, less than two months after Foster was arrested.
His heartbroken sister Mary Mariner, speaking after the hearing, said by then he weighed less than seven stones.
Foster, who had pleaded guilty to theft, got to know Mr Kilfoyle when she was a child after he came to her home to carry out some repair work.
The pensioner, whose eyes were damaged at birth, also suffered from mobility problems and became increasingly frail during the last three years of his life.
Mr Fryman said Mr Kilfoyle began entrusting Foster to help him with his finances, giving her his bank card and pin number and asking her to withdraw £100 a month for him and to do his food shopping.
But he said that instead, over a period of nearly two years, Foster raided his bank account, keeping approximately two thirds of what was withdrawn for herself and shoving small amounts of cash through his letter box and failing to shop for him. It is estimated she took £7,984.73.
In the weeks before she was caught she kept all the money for herself, leaving Mr Kilfoyle with no food and, in desperation, asking for help from the authorities.
“Mr Kilfoyle is described in the papers as starving. He was in a rather sorry state,” said Mr Fryman, who added that the pensioner was in arrears with electricity, water and other bills and a letter found at Foster’s home from the electricity company was threatening the pensioner with disconnection.
When police were called and visited Foster they found she had amassed a collection of 700 DVDs and CDs and there were receipts for a television and jewellery.
Foster told officers Mr Kilfoyle liked to buy her presents and claimed he had a crush on her.
The court heard that in June, 2010 Mr Kilfoyle had complained to police about Foster stealing from him, but later withdrew the allegation.
“I thought the world of her. I personally forgave her,” he later told them.
Andrew Costello, defending, said Foster had had problems in her childhood and learning difficulties.
He added that, at the time of the offences she was out of work, depressed and drinking and, that since the court proceedings started, she had attempted to kill herself.
Judge Bernadette Baxter told Foster that Mr Kilfoyle must have initially welcomed her acting as an unofficial carer.
“But unfortunately you abused the trust he place in you and abused it grievously,” she said.
“You did it to buy luxuries for yourself and your family — that, at a time when Mr Kilfoyle didn’t even have a penny to pay his bills, to buy food and keep a roof over his head.”
A proceeds of crime hearing will be held in court on June 3 in an attempt to force Foster to repay the money she stole.