Cambridgeshire carer jailed for stealing woman's assets


A carer from Cambridge has been jailed for seven years for stealing from an 83-year-old woman she looked after.

Cambridge Crown Court heard that Zandra Mackay, 62, of Cottenham, and three other people took thousands of pounds from paralysed widow Catherine Devas.

In a will that was later declared invalid Mrs Devas, who died in 2006, left everything to Mackay's son.

The pensioner, who had dementia, moved from the Cotswolds to Cambridge after the death of her husband.

The court heard Mrs Devas had relocated so she could surround herself with academics who shared her love of books.

Christmas presents

Mackay was hired privately to look after her, and the court heard that over three years £405,000 went out of Mrs Devas' bank account.

Some of the money was spent on care costs and legitimate expenses, but other purchases included Christmas presents from London department store Fortnum and Mason, the court heard.

In 2001, a civil case heard that Mrs Devas had investments of £665,000 and owned a three-bedroom house in Cambridge worth £350,000.

But at the time of her death, she had capital wealth of just £26,000.

A jury earlier found Mackay, of Wilkin Walk, Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, guilty of three counts of conspiracy to defraud.

Her son Marcus Mackay, 44, of Highfield Link, Romford, Essex, has been jailed for five years after previously admitting three counts of the same offence.

'No books'

Mrs Devas's secretary Deborah Atkinson, 49, from Lidgate, Suffolk, admitted three counts of conspiracy to defraud and was jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Atkinson's mother Beryl Benbow, 78, also from Lidgate, was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to defraud. She was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, and given a two-year supervision order.

In a will written in 2005 and witnessed by Mackay and Atkinson, Mrs Devas apparently disinherited her family "because they wanted to put her in a home without her books".

The sole beneficiary was named as Marcus Mackay, who the family said Mrs Devas had only met only once, if at all.

In August last year, Mrs Devas's family won a High Court battle to claim back their inheritance.

The judge ruled the final will was invalid because Mrs Devas was suffering from dementia and would not have understood what it said.

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