Addiction to bingo led to jail

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A BINGO addict who stole thousands of pounds from an elderly neighbour to fund her habit has been jailed for 12 months.

Barbara Taylor helped look after the disabled woman and did her shopping but eventually the temptation to use her bank cards to obtain cash proved too much.

She visited a bingo hall in Leigh and sometimes used the cards to withdraw cash from an ATM in the premises.

Her dishonesty only came to light when her 77-year-old victim, Elizabeth Bailey, discovered that her bank accounts had been “run dry” and her direct debits unpaid.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that at the same time 58-year-old Taylor was working as a volunteer at the Willow project, which helps women with drink problems.

Jailing her, Judge Bryn Holloway said that Taylor, who has no previous convictions, had given valuable and considerable assistance to her victim, who had deteriorating mobility and health problems.

He said: “Such was the nature of your friendship she entrusted you with the details of her bank cards so you could do shopping for her. It is clear initially you did so honestly but the time came when you turned from using the account as she intended to a way she never expected.”

As well as withdrawing a total of £11,670 cash to spend on bingo and gaming machines she also used the cards to buy camping equipment and tanning cream, worth £136.

Judge Holloway said it was clear she had not spent the money on an extravagant lifestyle but withdrew money from a cash machine at the bingo hall. He said only a custodial sentence was appropriate.

Taylor, of Hornby Grove, Leigh, pleaded guilty to three theft offences between June 23, 2009 and February 25 2011, and two fraud offences. Another fraud offence, which she denied, was ordered to lie on the file.

Steven Swift, defending, said she had been genuinely caring for her friend and neighbour but fell into temptation created by her gambling addiction.

He said: “She is in poor health and imprisonment will be very hard for her.”