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Lawyer’s failure to pay bills distressed disabled employer

A caregiver for a quadriplegic who was allegedly defrauded by her former lawyer told the Supreme Court a debit card was kept at the house to help pay for medical expenses.

Mechelle Smith, who served as a caregiver for Kirsten Badenduck for 16 years, told the court that as part of her work, she had access to the HSBC debit card which was kept at the senior’s home.

Ms Smith said that the card was mainly used to purchase Ms Badenduck’s medications and medical supplies, but was also used to pay for meals out for the senior.

Asked if she had used the card to withdraw cash, she said: “On occasions when Ms Badenduck needed house hold money to pay for incidentals, such as hairdressers or massages – people who came to the house.

“I would use an ATM to withdraw $250, the amount she liked to keep in the house for incidentals.”

She told the court that she primarily used the ATM at Collector’s Hill or Harrington Hundreds because of their proximity to Ms Badenduck’s home, but she accepted in cross examination that she had also used the ATM at Lindo’s.

She said that when Nancy Vieira came on board to help manage Ms Badenduck’s affairs, she was initially “very accessible”.

Ms Smith said that while she maintained control over the senior’s medical care, Ms Vieira was tasked with managing her other affairs.

However after about a month she said Ms Vieira’s appearances at the home began to wane.

She told the court that, as part of her responsibilities, Ms Vieira was tasked with paying the caregivers every week.

But Ms Smith said Ms Vieira was late with payments on “numerous occasions” and on one occasion she was paid three weeks late.

She told the court she believed that Ms Vieira had been in hospital at the time.

Ms Smith also said that Ms Vieira had not paid other bills on time, which she said caused Ms Badenduck stress.

The court previously heard that Ms Badenduck, a business executive who had been paralysed in a road crash, died in 2019.

Ms Vieira, from Pembroke, has denied charges that she dishonestly obtained a $50,000 money transfer from Ms Badenduck between January and July 2016.

She has further denied allegations that she stole $28,615 from Ms Badenduck through unauthorised ATM withdrawals and $7,601 through unauthorised debit card transactions between August 2015 and October 2016.

Prosecutors have alleged that Ms Vieira had falsely told Ms Badenduck she required a $50,000 loan to cover a “buy-in” and become a partner at MacLellan and Associates, where she had worked.

However Jacqueline MacLellan said she had never discussed a potential partnership with Ms Vieira and was “shocked” to hear about the loan.

She told the court that Ms Vieira had brought Ms Badenduck on as a client in 2015, with the firm tasked with handling a caregiver accused of theft, and had no idea Ms Vieira had received power of attorney over the senior until November 2016.

The trial continues.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding criminal court cases. This is to prevent any statements being published that may jeopardise the outcome of that case.