Bogus Care Worker Who Targetted Elderly Is Jailed

A bogus care worker who preyed on defenceless old ladies by tricking her into their homes to rob them of their life savings, incl ding a wheelchair-bound 84-year-old, was jailed for six years. Anna Marie Richards, 42, also mugged an 80-year-old pensioner on the street during her vicious crime spree, in which she used violence to steal money and valuables from her terrified victims in over 22 offences. While on bail for another mugging, Richards carried out the spate of burglaries by posing as a nurse or social worker to prey on her over 22 vulnerable targets in November last year.

One of her victims she conned was an 84-year-old woman in a wheelchair, who let Richards into her home after she posed as a replacement for her usual health carer. After Richards distracting her victim with small talk about her plans for Christmas, she ransacked the house stealing any valuables she stumbled across.

Richards used a similar routine to trick her way into at least 15 other houses in and around Balham, south London.

Most of her victims were elderly and she often used violence to get them to disclose where they kept their money, credit cards, cheques, mobiles and keepsakes. She also mugged an 80-year-old woman in Balham High Road after spotting her withdrawing £110 from a cash machine. Richards distracted her then shoved her to the ground and made off with her handbag.

Unemployed Richards, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to one robbery and nine ‘artifice burglaries’ – where the thief gains entry by deception – at Kingston Crown Court.

She asked for a further seven burglaries and one robbery to be taken into consideration.

She was first arrested after an off duty police officer heard the screams of a 26-year-old woman who Richards attacked in Fonteroy Road, Balham and she was apprehended. She was sentenced to three-and-a-half year behind bars for that street robbery in March this year.

Her six-year jail term will run concurrently with the other sentence and was warned that she posed a danger to the public and will only be given parole only if she is no longer thought dangerous. When she is released she will be on licence for life.

Speaking outside court Detective Constable Bob Leigh said: “Richards carried out a number of robberies and artifice burglaries in the borough and often used violence to scare her victims into giving them what she wanted. The majority of her victims were the elderly and vulnerable, who were deceived by her initial kindness and various guises as a nurse, home help and social services worker. I want to thank my colleagues for all their hard work and hope the victims she left in her trail can take satisfaction from this result and enjoy the rest of their lives.”