A care home worker misappropriated over £7,600 from the bank account of an elderly woman to fuel her online gambling addiction.
During the hearing at the Teesside Crown Court, it became clear that the 36-year-old Yvette Thomas was hooked on online gambling. She was caught stealing money from an 87-year old woman after the victim’s son noticed that large amounts of money had been withdrawn. There were also entries for SkyBet and PayPal on the elderly woman’s bank statement.
The elderly woman’s son also spotted that the money transactions were irregular and matched the shifts of the care home worker.
At court, Ms Thomas admitted her wrongdoings. Prosecutor Nigel Soppitt confirmed the confession and also said that the woman promised to make up for the theft with work. However, as he further explained, it turned out that the victim never fully realized the seriousness of the crime and thought that only £20 was missing. The woman never learned the actual extent of the misappropriation before her death, as the Halifax bank repaid the money and bore the loss.
The court found that Yvette Thomas had stolen a total amount of £7,614 in the period from December 2016 to September 2017.
Judge Casts Blame on Online Gambling Operators as Well
Ms Thomas’ lawyer, Peter Sabiston, explained that his client feels very ashamed of her actions. He further reminded that Ms Thompson was not the first person to get hooked on online gambling, and added that most of the transactions were made in June 2017, when she was facing a great deal of personal and financial difficulties.
Sabiston informed the court that his client had managed to make “extraordinary progress” and had stopped gambling.
Judge Sean Morris scolded the defendant that she got heavily addicted to online gambling and described her actions as “a nasty breach of trust” but also cast some blame on iGaming operators for being the cause for such gambling addictions and making problem gamblers, their families and people close to them suffer. However, Judge Morris did not justify Ms Thomas’ actions with the fact that she had been facing some difficulties and told her that did not give her the right to steal from an elderly lady and use the money on gambling.
The 36-year-old woman received a 10-month jail term suspended for 18 months, with a 6-month curfew for the period from 8:30 PM and 7:00 AM. She also faced a 200-hour unpaid work order.
The case once again raised some issues related to increasing problem gambling rates in the UK. The last few years have seen the number of people who get hooked on gambling both off- and online rapidly increase. The boost in gambling addiction rates considered being one of the many negative effects of easy accessibility of various gambling options, especially the ones available on the Internet.