A care worker has been jailed for at least 30 years for murdering a defenceless disabled man in a bid to net £70,000 from his will.
Thelma Purchase, 44, was told by a judge at Stafford Crown Court that the killing of Greg Baker was a “truly horrible crime” motivated by greed.
Purchase’s son, Lance Rudge, and his friend Shane Edge, both 20, were ordered to serve minimum terms of 18 and 20 years respectively for the murder of Mr Baker, who was killed in Alton, Staffordshire, in June last year.
The three defendants, all from Stoke-on-Trent, were convicted of murder on July 10 following a month-long trial which heard that Purchase hoped to inherit a share of Mr Baker’s cottage.
The victim, who was left crippled by childhood polio and suffered from muscular dystrophy, was found suffocated at his home by another carer paying a routine visit.
Passing mandatory life sentences, Mr Justice Saunders told Edge, of Cliveden Place, Longton, and his co-defendants, both of Sherwood Road, Meir, that they had murdered a generous, intelligent and well-loved man.
He said that Purchase would have known that Mr Baker was unable to defend himself and that his door was left unlocked at night.
All three defendants denied playing any part in the killing despite mobile phone evidence linking Purchase to the Alton area and testimony that the male defendants had talked about suffocating a man to trigger a payment from a will.
It emerged during their trial that Mr Baker had given Purchase £1,500 to buy the Citroen Saxo which she used to drive Edge to Alton.
Edge, who smothered Mr Baker after entering his home under the cover of darkness, had been promised £8,000 if he helped to carry out the killing.
At the opening of the trial, Christopher Hotten, QC, prosecuting described Purchase as “a woman who wouldn’t wait” for her inheritance.
The mother-of-three met Mr Baker when she worked as his main care worker, and remained his friend after she stopped working with him some years ago.
Detective Chief Inspector Ken Raper, who led the inquiry, said the murder had been cowardly and callous.
“Hopefully the outcome will allow Mr Baker’s family and everyone who knew him to move on from these tragic events.”