A fantasist with ‘delusions of grandeur’ posed as a doctor, a nurse, a physiotherapist and other professionals to get work caring for elderly people in the Leamington area.
Even more dangerously, fraudster Kammi Bassi ‘prescribed’ tablets which could have caused devastating internal bleeding to her victims, one of whom took seven of them.
And even during her trial at Warwick Crown Court, Bassi tried to con the jury by appearing in the dock in a wheelchair, with a hearing aid and dark glasses, and clutching a white stick.
But Judge Sarah Buckingham observed: “The court has seen her medical records, and I am satisfied that at the moment she has not been diagnosed with any condition which would cause sight or hearing impediment.”
Unknown to the jury, when Bassi had first appeared at the court last year, she had feigned blindness – after being seen getting out of her car in which she had driven to court.
Bassi, 58, of Woodside Avenue North, Coventry, was found guilty in March of seven charges of fraud and three of supplying prescription-only medication.
And following an adjournment for reports to be prepared on her, she was jailed for a total of three years – in her absence after she had refused to leave the cells to go into the dock.
She was also given a restraining order banning her from having any contact with her victims or their families, and a criminal behaviour order prohibiting her from entering Cubbington or Lillington, acting or offering to act as a carer, except for a member of her own family, or offering to supply medication.
Sentencing her as if she was present, Judge Buckingham said: “You targeted elderly people and pretended to be a qualified doctor, a nurse, an occupational therapist, a physiotherapist, an osteopath and a chiropractor.
“You are not a member of any of the professions you claimed to be a member of, but not only did you pretend you were qualified to provide a caring service, in three cases you went further by providing your victims with prescription medication.
“To prescribe drugs when you are not qualified can be extremely dangerous.”
The judge pointed out that the anti-inflammatory drug Naproxen 500, which Bassi handed to three of her elderly victims, had a potential side-effect of gastro-intestinal bleeding to which elderly people were at an increased risk.
Fortunately only one of them actually took the tablets, which had been prescribed to Bassi, before consulting people who advised against them, and that lady did not suffer any ill-effect.
And Judge Buckingham commented: “At trial you embarked on what was a delusional defence, at first saying that you were being used, and then that you were being set up by the police.
Bassi had not co-operated with reports prepared on her, but there was no evidence of any psychiatric symptoms to explain her bizarre behaviour, other than ‘an almost insatiable need for attention and love.
“Your conduct was motivated not so much by money, although you were determined to be paid, but out of a deep-seated desire to be respected for skills you simply didn’t have. But you did demonstrate a reckless disregard for their safety.
During the trial prosecutor Laura Culley said: “This defendant targeted elderly people and pretended to be a qualified medical doctor, a nurse, an occupational therapist, an osteopath and a chiropractor to try to get them to engage her services.”
In addition, she also supplied the prescription-only drug Naproxen, which Miss Culley said was ‘a dangerous thing to do.’
“She is not an appropriate practitioner within the meaning of the Human Medicines regulations, so she is not entitled to supply prescription medication.”
In September 2016 Bassi contacted one of the daughters of an elderly Lillington woman, who has since died, claiming to run a company of qualified physiotherapists – and was taken on to provide two hours of care a day.
Bassi, who also claimed to be a qualified occupational therapist, used her own ointments to massage the pensioner, whose other daughter also began to use her for massages to help with tremors in her hand, handing over £223 for seven sessions.
She also supplied that woman with a packet of Naproxen, having ‘diagnosed’ her as having an arthritic knuckle – and her employment by the family only ended when she demanded more money.
Another woman contacted by Bassi was told she had got her name from a parishioner at St Mary’s Church in Cubbington.
Bassi claimed to have various qualifications, and as well as providing leg and arm massages, strangely using Vagisil to do so, she also gave her Naproxen and Lactulose, a prescription drug for constipation, as ‘a pick-me-up.’
But the woman showed the drugs to a friend, a retired nurse, who became very concerned because of the potential side-effects, particularly for an elderly person, said Miss Culley.
The woman and her friend contacted the police, as did the daughter of an 89-year-old woman who had been contacted by Bassi offering her services as an occupational therapist.
Approaching the editor of a small magazine called Acorn News, for elderly people in Cubbington, to place a full-page advert, Bassi claimed to have a medical degree.
She also approached an elderly woman in Lloyds Chemists, claiming to be a doctor and an osteopath, and saying she had noticed she was limping and could help her.
The woman turned down her offer, but Bassi followed her home and into the house where she took out a box of Naproxen, telling the woman to take them if the pain in her leg got bad.
After the woman said she was unsure about it and would need to speak to her son, Bassi said not to say she had got the tablets from her – and her son also contacted the police.
At the resumed hearing, after Bassi had refused to discuss the case with him in the cells, her barrister Ekwal Tiwana said: “There’s no doubt she has delusions of grandeur, but she had not been complained of before she embarked on this mad enterprise.
“It is not done for money,” said Mr Tiwana, who pointed out that Bassi had actually provided a good level of care, and had made ‘a pittance’ from her frauds.
And he argued that, as she had spent the equivalent of 12 months in custody on remand, a further prison term ‘holds no fear for her,’ and she could be given a suspended sentence.