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Nurse banned for taking $1.5m from man in care

When Lionel Cox died the 92-year-old was frail, vulnerable and sitting on a fortune.

The bachelor had no known relatives when he went into Melbourne care home Cambridge House in July 2015 for respite as his health rapidly deteriorated.

It was there he met Abha Kumar, a nurse who within days would help him hand-write a will, making her the soul beneficiary to his $1.5 million estate.

Kumar was this week banned from being a registered health practitioner and from working or volunteering in any sort of aged care capacity for five years for engaging in professional misconduct and forcing staff to aide her.

Cox was living alone in his Fitzroy house with the help of kind neighbours and a Brotherhood of St Laurence case manager before moving to Cambridge House.

He had told nurses he was only staying ‘until the cold months were over’.

Kumar was present when Cox was admitted and was told he had no friends or family, owned his home and had not made a will.

Within three days, Kumar started researching avenues for Cox to get legal advice on a will.

A few weeks later, she went with him in a taxi to his house to collect belongings and $4500 cash, which she kept in her purse.

Days later she bought him a will kit, which he hand wrote in her favour, and she forced staff to sign without telling them she was the beneficiary.

Cox died on August 9, 2015, of natural causes.

Kumar was not working, but called the hospice and demanded a junior staff member search for Cox’s house key while his body was still in the room.

Probate to the will was granted, it was never challenged and Kumar went on to sell Cox’s home for $1.117 million in November 2016 and got $39,000 for selling other items.

She still has the money, despite suggesting she wanted to donate it to charity, and she admitted during the hearing the cash would be used to cover her legal costs.

The matter went to a hearing in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in July this year and Kumar admitted three allegations made against her by the Nursing and Midwifery Board.

In their orders handed down on Tuesday, tribunal members Elisabeth Wentworth, Mary Archibald and Pamela Barry slammed Kumar as a “deeply flawed character” who “lacks trustworthiness and integrity” and is a risk to the public.

“The conduct in this case constituted determined, goal-directed actions by Ms Kumar to ensure that Mr Cox, a vulnerable, elderly man in her care, made a will in her favour, and that no-one knew he had done so until after he died,” they wrote.

“Instead of refusing the benefit under the will, she has retained it, thereby profiting from her misconduct.”

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