Drug addict Olivia Asquith, 28, withdrew money 87 times from the account of a man living in assisted living who had suffered from bowel cancer.
She was working as a cashier at Leeds Credit Union on Dewsbury Road when the offenses took place between September 2019 and March 2021, Leeds Crown Court heard on Thursday.
The victim suffers from schizophrenia and physical disabilities as a result of bowel cancer, the court heard.
He lives in an assisted living facility and has the support of staff members to help him with his daily activities.
While he is able to do many things on his own, he struggles to manage his finances, the court heard.
The victim had financial support and usually withdrew around £500 every two weeks, the court heard.
The victim usually withdraws money themselves by providing identification to the bank and signing a withdrawal slip to confirm the amount they have withdrawn.
The bank then keeps a copy of that slip, the court said.
In January and February 2019, the victim received a series of substantial payments into his account from the Department for Work and Pensions.
His bank balance over that period rose from £2,618 to more than £80,000, prosecutor Stephen Littlewood told the court.
However, this money had dwindled over the 18 months before the victim realized it and asked his worker to check the balance.
The victim had asked his companion to check his account balance in March 2021.
Mr Littlewood said: “Towards the start of 2021 [the victim] started noticing that large sums of money seemed to be disappearing from his account.
“This was due to the current balance appearing on the slips when he went to the bank and noticed that the total appeared to be significantly reduced.
“Following this, he asked a support worker to view his statement on March 9, 2021.
“She was immediately concerned as there seemed to be frequent withdrawals from the account at times when [the victim] was not at the bank.
“She immediately reported this to other staff who passed the information on to the credit union; they in turn launched their own internal investigation.”
It was discovered that out of 144 total withdrawals during the period, 87 did not have a corresponding payment slip – the victim was not present.
“These 87 transactions totaled £42,260.77 taken from the account,” Mr Littlewood said.
“It turned out that the same cashier had been responsible for each of these transactions, the accused Ms Asquith.
“It also showed that some transfers had been made directly to Ms Asquith’s account just before she started maternity leave.
“While she was on leave, the fraudulent transactions ceased.”
Following this investigation, Asquith was arrested on July 10, 2021.
His home was searched but no money was recovered, the court heard.
Asquith, from Leeds, admitted to the theft when questioned and said her debts had gotten out of control while gambling.
When questioned, Asquith admitted the offences.
Asquith said she took money from the victim’s account, placed the money in her purse and threw away the withdrawal slips.
“She said she started doing it because of debts and she intended to use the gambling money to pay off those debts and return the money,” Mr Littlewood said. .
“As with most people who gamble, that money was never recovered.
“Eventually it got out of control and she started taking more and more money.
“She initially thought she had only taken around £10,000, but when presented with the evidence, it must have been the full amount.
“She said she had a gambling addiction.”
She pleaded guilty to one count of theft in Leeds on May 24 at Leeds Magistrates’ Court.
Her gambling account was later analyzed and showed that she had deposited over £108,000 between March 2018 and July 2021.
Total withdrawals from the account were £87,205 with total stakes over £750,000, the prosecutor told the court.
The bank later reimbursed £39,000 to the victim.
“He was targeted because of his vulnerability,” the prosecutor said.
“[The victim] was the only person from whom money had been taken, the accused knew that carers were taking him to the bank.
“So he was clearly targeted for his vulnerability.
“He was mostly reimbursed for the losses he had suffered.”
Mum-of-two Asquith feared her children would be placed in care if given a custodial sentence, Charlotte Noddings said in mitigation.
Judge Batty said Asquith’s efforts to try to find alternative accommodation for her children before her sentencing showed “how much she cared about them”.
Sentencing her, he said: “The game is awful, isn’t it, absolutely awful.
“You are not the first and you will not be the last.
“The only people who suffer are you and your loved ones, the companies don’t suffer at all.
“Those involved injured their loved ones, but also in this case injured others.”
Asquith was sentenced to 16 months in prison, suspended for two years.
The judge continued: “It is clear to me that you are intelligent and articulate and can achieve success in your life, I urge you to do so.
“It was mean and unpleasant and a breach of trust.
“It was definitely someone you were targeting because they were less likely to know what was going on.
“Unconsciously or consciously, this must have been your thinking or decision-making process.”
Asquith must undertake 30 days of rehabilitation and pay court costs.
“If you commit an offense within the next two years, you will have to come back before me,” concluded the judge.