News

Burton denies stealing $56,000 from senior

  • Police statement: Melissa Burton

A life coach accused of stealing more than $56,000 from an elderly member of the Trimingham department store family told police she only ever acted in the senior’s best interest, Supreme Court heard yesterday. Melissa Burton, 53, told officers: “Everything I did was for her. I was the only person she trusted on this planet.”

However, Ms Burton refused to comment when questioned by police about a series of transactions that took thousands of dollars out of Katherine Trimingham’s account just before and after her death.

One of the transactions she refused to comment on was paid out in her name and three others were paid to the Enso Media Group in late 2016.

Officers told Ms Burton they understood the Enso Media Group was a company incorporated by her in 2008 and dissolved in 2011, but she again refused to comment.

She claimed to police that she had Katherine Trimingham’s power of attorney, was the trustee of her estate and questioned how law firm MJM was able to get access to the senior’s accounts. She told officers: “I don’t know how they did it and I don’t know why they did it.”

The claims came in a February 2017 video interview with Ms Burton played in court.

Ms Burton, from Sag Harbour, New York, denies allegations that she stole $56,284 from Katherine Trimingham, who died, aged 72, in 2016.

She also denies a charge of financially exploiting the senior.

Ms Burton said in the interview she and Ms Trimingham met in New York in 2012 or 2013.

Ms Trimingham had been taken to a rehab centre in the city for treatment for alcoholism. Ms Trimingham returned the next year for further treatment and hired Ms Burton as her life coach.

Ms Burton said she made monthly trips to Bermuda and was in constant contact with Ms Trimingham. She added she did personal shopping for both Ms Trimingham and her pet King Charles spaniel Belle.

Ms Burton said: “If she wanted something in New York, she would just ask me to bring it down when I came next. I would set up her doctor’s appointment, I would take her to the dentist.”

Ms Burton said Ms Trimingham was “anxious” and “lonely”.

She added: “She had all the money, more than she ever needed, but she had no family. She had nothing. She was probably the loneliest person I have ever met.”

Ms Burton later told officers: “She didn’t trust anybody except for me, Belle, and John DeSilva, who was her personal friend and property manager.”

She said Ms Trimingham received money from a trust, but did not want the trust involved in her personal finances and had told her someone had stolen money from the trust and, over the years she worked with Ms Trimingham, the payments made by the trust were reduced.

Payments to Ms Trimingham from the trust started in 2012 or 2013 at $20,500 a month, but had been reduced to $10,000 at the time of her death.

Ms Burton said the Meritus Trust, who made the payments from the trust, looked at Ms Trimingham’s savings account at the end of each year to decide how much to pay out.

She added in the police statement that in March 2016 she sat down with Ms Trimingham to write a “letter of wishes” to detail changes in her will.

Ms Burton claimed Ms Trimingham gave her power of attorney and named her the executor of her will. Ms Burton said the document was sent to MJM lawyer Alan Dunch, which she told police would be enough to grant Ms Burton power of attorney under the terms of the will.

But Mr Dunch told the court earlier that he had not seen the document until more than a month after Ms Trimingham’s death in December 2016.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.