Collapsed court case care warden Elizabeth Fairbank: 'Receipts destroyed by Hull police would have proved my innocence'
A WOMAN who faced a two-year fight to clear her name after the police destroyed vital evidence is demanding an apology.
Warden Elizabeth Fairbank battled for two years against charges of fraud from an elderly resident in her care at sheltered housing complex Alexander Hutchison Court in north Hull.
She was in charge of handling one resident's finances when almost £9,000 was left unaccounted for.
Miss Fairbank claims she used some of the savings to decorate the woman's flat.
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The police were handed bundles of receipts, which Miss Fairbank claims prove her innocence and show all the missing money went on refurbishing the lady's flat.
Another carer from the complex gave evidence stating she countersigned one receipt for a carpet.
However, the police's property unit destroyed the evidence after the officer in the case failed to respond to an e-mail confirming the evidence was still needed.
It was not until the second day of Miss Fairbank's trial that the police admitted the evidence in the form of receipts had existed but had been destroyed, although Miss Fairbank's legal team had been asking for the documents for two years.
A judge stopped the trial on the grounds she could not be fairly tried.
Miss Fairbank, 35, said: "Those receipts would have proved my innocence. Now, I will never be able to fully clear my name because of this.
"I have been through two years of hell and the police kept telling my legal team the receipts did not exist when I knew they did. My life has been completely and utterly devastated by this.
"I faced losing my career and going to prison if convicted.
"The police have admitted they made a mistake but I have received no apology.
"I don't see how on earth we can trust the justice system and the police when something like this can happen to a normal person like me. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.
"I was fortunate to have the barrister I did, who spent endless hours going through the information and who believed that these receipts existed.
"What the police did was slapdash and incompetent. This all been a complete nightmare."
Miss Fairbank is considering legal action against Humberside Police over the case.
When the case collapsed, Detective Superintendent Scott Young said: "Unfortunately, despite great efforts made by Humberside Police to ensure all administrative processes are fail-safe, occasionally incidents such as this do happen.
"Sadly, on this occasion, evidence appears to have been destroyed because of a mistaken belief that it was no longer needed."
He said a "more robust" IT system would be introduced to prevent similar problems.
Miss Fairbank, of Bilton, faced eight counts of theft.
If new evidence is found in the future, proceedings against her can be restarted.
Miss Fairbank, who had worked as a warden at the sheltered housing complex and left in 2008, had been accused of stealing £8,723 from an elderly woman suffering from memory loss.