Daughter stole to play bingo

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Courts: Reports from the law courts.

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A WOMAN stole thousands of pounds from her disabled mother’s bank account - so she could play bingo.

Doncaster woman Alison Scott has been ostracised by her relatives after they discovered she had taken her mother’s savings of more than £7,000 in just a few months to feed her gambling habit.

Her brother, Michael Crane, of Mansfield Crescent, Armthorpe, said their mother, Linda Crane, was ‘devastated’ by the breach of trust and neither of them has spoken to her since the stealing was exposed in a shock bank letter warning that she was overdrawn.

At first Mrs Crane, aged 70, was convinced she had become a victim of identity theft but when her son instigated checks with her bank it became obvious the thief was much closer to home.

Mrs Crane, a retired hospital clerical worker, has cerebral

ataxia, which affects her balance, and agreed her 51-year-old daughter should help manage her financial affairs through online banking.

But Doncaster Crown Court heard how Scott, with no previous convictions, systematically stole a total of £7,595 from Mrs Crane.

After the judge decided to impose a suspended jail sentence on her, Michael, aged 46, told The Star: “Mum wouldn’t want her to get locked up but I did. She shouldn’t have done it.

“As soon as she heard what Alison had done my mother stopped speaking to her and we haven’t spoken to her since.

“At first mum thought a complete stranger had got to her bank account, when I found about £6,500 missing, but then the police made enquiries and told us it had gone to Alison’s account.

“My mum was devastated. We found out just before Christmas and we didn’t spend any of that with her. Mum was devastated.

“She hasn’t paid any of the money back and I don’t suppose she will. I’m not so sure that she has got a gambling addiction - that might be something she claimed when she was found out.”

Scott, of Locking Drive, Armthorpe, pleaded guilty to the theft when she appeared in the dock.

Prosecutor Brian Outhwaite said the offence came to light when Mrs Crane received a letter from the bank telling her she had gone over her £800 overdraft limit.

When first arrested Scott denied any wrongdoing but in a second interview she made full and frank admissions, saying a great deal of the money had gone on online bingo playing with a tabloid newspaper.

“By her own admission she had a gambling addiction,” said Mr Outhwaite.

Michael Upson, defending, said she accepted her mother’s anger and they were no longer speaking.

She had started attending Gamblers’ Anonymous meetings and wanted to do something about her addiction.

The judge, Recorder Henry Prosser, said it was ‘touch and go’ whether he sent Scott to prison immediately but he had decided to suspend the sentence.

“You don’t need me to tell you how despicable these offences were. On a large number of occasions you pilfered from your mother’s account when she trusted you. When a mother can’t trust her own daughter it’s a poor lookout.”

Scott, was sentenced to eight months, suspended for two years, and must complete 150 hours of unpaid community work as well as attend 21 remedial sessions at Doncaster Women’s Centre.