Page last updated at 14:54 GMT, Sunday, 2 May 2010 15:54 UK

Leicester hospice tries to recover stolen bequest

Leicester Royal Infirmary
Adams was a bereavement counsellor at University Hospitals of Leicester

Leicestershire hospice officials hope to recover a bequest of £235,000 stolen by an NHS bereavement counsellor.

Yvette Adams, 46, of Glen Road, Oadby, was jailed for five years for stealing money by forging documents.

Simon Proffitt, of Leicestershire and Rutland Hospice, said he was appalled and astonished by the theft.

Adams, who was employed by the University Hospitals of Leicester to help bereaved families, used the funds to buy cars and property.

Robin Hood

Mr Proffitt said: "I was astonished when police came to see me and appalled that someone would not comply with the wishes of dying people."

During her trial Leicester Crown Court heard she used her position to steal more than £750,000 between 2002 and 2009.

She forged documents and signatures to obtain money from the estates of seven patients who died without a will.

On 17 March pleaded guilty to 11 counts of making a false instrument, eight counts of theft and one count each of concealing a will, making a false representation, obtaining property by deception and attempting to obtain property by deception.

She saw herself as a modern-day Robin Hood
Emma Stanbanks, defence solicitor

After the death of one patient, Adams amended their will to name herself as the executor, then wound up the estate and retained the money.

The NHS Counter Fraud Service said she also forged letters of authority from supposed distant relatives of deceased patients, sometimes inventing their names or using the names of her friends.

Her defence lawyer Emma Stanbanks said her client believed she was putting money destined for the Treasury to better use.

"She saw herself as a modern-day Robin Hood," she said, adding: "She donated more than £215,000 to charity."

Adams was found out when her employers became suspicious of her continued involvement in probate matters after they had told her to stop doing this work.

Judge Sylvia de Bertodano described her crimes as "shockingly callous offences".

Adams had a portfolio of mortgaged properties, including flats, and a narrowboat and a BMW worth £37,000.

These are all being sold, along with an antique organ, and the proceeds will be used to part-compensate the victims of her frauds.

Police have recovered some assets and a date has been set for 6 August for confiscation proceedings to begin.

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