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Woman stole from 90-year-old to fund online gambling

PUBLISHED: 17:07 24 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:23 06 July 2010

A former manager of a Yarmouth sheltered housing block stole £14,500 from a vulnerable 90 year old woman to fund her addiction to online gambling.

A former manager of a Yarmouth sheltered housing block stole £14,500 from a vulnerable 90-year-old woman to fund her addiction to on-line gambling.

Sally Unwin, 45, who worked as manager at Edwin Vincent Court, in Standard Place, systematically stole the cash from Valerie House who was 89 at the time, Norwich Crown Court heard.

William Carter, prosecuting, said that Mrs Howes suffered from dementia and was unable to manage her own finances and Unwin, against her employment rules, took control of the pensioner's finances.

Mr Carter said that Mrs House's family became concerned about the situation and Age Concern Money Matters Team were brought in to discuss with Mrs House her finances.

However, he said the team were disconcerted to find that they were unable to see Mrs House alone as Unwin insisted on sitting in on the meetings and tried to get Mrs House to say she did not want their involvement and even wrote letters to that effect.

When spoken to on her own Mrs House admitted that it Unwin who did not want Age Concern's involvement as she had told her she did not want them to know the balance of Mrs House's bank account.

Unwin was suspended from her job on July 31 last year and was arrested the next day.

At first she tried to claim that she had handed the cash over to Mrs House and money which had been paid into her bank account she claimed had come from car boot sales and bingo wins. However she later admitted she had taken the cash to fund her addiction to on-line gambling.

Unwin of Standard Place, Yarmouth, admitted theft between February and July last year.

Jailing her for 18 months, recorder Guy Ayers told her: “You were in a managerial capacity in the care industry and under your care was someone aged 89 who you knew had significant personal difficulties including an element of dementia. She was a very, very vulnerable and easy victim.”

He said Unwin had taken up gambling to get away from reality: “You used to fund your gambling addiction by stealing from this elderly, vulnerable person and did so over a number of months.”

He said she had then tried to cover up her tracks when an investigation was launched rather than admit what she had done. He said only custody could be justified.

Jonathan Morgans, mitigating, said: “Her shame is obvious”. He said Unwin had worked in the care industry because she wanted to help people but now because of this conviction would never be able to work in that field again.

He said the handling of Mrs House's finances had started off as legitimate but her addiction to gambling and being made bankrupt had forced her to steal from the victim. “As she looses more and more money she turned then to taking money from the injured party.”

He said her behaviour was out of character.

Mr Morgans said she had now sought help for her gambling addiction and had the support of her estranged husband. “She is facing up to her addiction.”

He said she was now unemployed and would have difficulty in getting another job in the future.

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