A BANK manager was jailed for three years yesterday after gambling away almost £200,000 of his customers’ money.
Savings belonging to dementia sufferers and a widow were siphoned off by Lee Newton, a bank manager at two Lloyds TSB branches, to pay for his gambling addiction.
Newton targeted pensioners – including more than £100,000 from William and Elsie Hendricks alone – who were unlikely to access their accounts regularly, by withdrawing their money and depositing it as his own.
Newton, a 32-year-old, of Wolverton Road, Milton Keynes, is due to become a father for the first time in the next five days. He worked at Lloyds branches in Wolverton and Buckingham when the fraud took place between September 2008 and January 2011.
Suspicions were raised when his bosses noticed vast amounts of money going in and out of his account, a crown court judge was told.
When confronted, Newton admitted to one of the bank’s directors and a risk manager who were carrying out an internal investigation, what he had done. said prosecutor Kevin West.
Newton was arrested and charged by police, before admitting 10 counts of fraud by abuse of position with a total sum taken amounting to £189,175.38. Mr West told at Aylesbury Crown Court: “This fraud centred on elderly customers whom he had met personally or was aware of their personal circumstances.
“He transferred money into his account as cash payments and in some cases he altered the home address on bank statements so they would be sent to the bank and not to the customer.”
In one case, £123,000 was taken by Newton from the accounts of William and Elsie Hendricks – both suffering from dementia, said Mr West.
In another case £6,700 was moved from Walter Cook’s account into Newton’s – two weeks before the OAP passed away, Mr West added.
This account was then put into Gertrude Cook’s name after the death of her husband and Mr Newton continued to withdraw payments, the prosecutor said.
Newton did pay money back into this account but it ended in an £850 loss, the hearing was told.
Caroline Evans, defending, said her client had intended to pay money back to his customers. She said: “Essentially this was a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.
“He had the money and intended to pay it back from his winnings.
“This was not to pay for a lavish lifestyle – it was to fund a gambling addiction. He is genuinely ashamed of what he has done.”
She added her client should be given credit for an early guilty plea and having no previous convictions.
Newton, who worked for Lloyds TSB for a decade, had sought help from Gamblers Anonymous and forfeited his £34,000 pension with the bank to further pay back his debt.
Sentencing, Recorder, Mrs Elizabeth Roscoe, said: “This was a substantial fraud carried out over a long period of time on vulnerable victims on the basis of trust.
“I note it was not to fund a lavish lifestyle but for an addiction, which was something you were unable to control.
“You have lost your job and this has had a substantial effect on your family.”