Norwich building society worker jailed for stealing �19,000 from elderly couple

A Norwich building society worker systematically stole more than �19,000 from the account of a vulnerable elderly couple to fund a lavish lifestyle and her gambling addiction, a court heard.

Jodie Gayet, 21, who is now heavily pregnant, worked at the Chelsea Building Society, in Red Lion Street, Norwich, and befriended the 89 year-old man, who has Alzheimer's Disease and held a joint account with his wife, aged 95.

She used to help him with his account and Norwich Crown Court heard yesterday how she abused his trust and withdrew cash from the couple's account to pay for a car, a holiday and a �1,000 deposit on a flat.

Gayet also had a gambling addiction.

Philip Charnley, prosecuting, said the thefts came to light when the elderly man contacted the building society and was confused about transactions on his account.

'This prompted a fraud inquiry and it was quickly established that it was the defendant who was responsible for withdrawing sums of money without their consent,' said Mr Charnley.

He added that the building society ensured the couple were not put to any distress and reimbursed them.

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Gayet admitted what she had done and said it was to fund her gambling habit. Gayet said that at one point she won �33,000, but then lost it and tried to carry on gambling to win it back, said Mr Charnley.

He added that Gayet admitted she had befriended the victim and it got so she was the only person in the branch he would deal with.

He said that Gayet admitted she had spent the cash on a car, a holiday to Paris and a deposit for a flat.

He added: 'She said it was her intention to repay the cash with winnings from her gambling, but as she never won anything, that was never possible.'

Gayet, of Monarch Way, Carlton Colville, near Lowestoft, admitted theft of �19,000 and asked for two similar matters to be taken into consideration, which was the theft of �500 from two other accounts at the building society.

The court heard her baby is due at the end of June and Recorder Guy Ayers jailed her for six weeks in the hope she will be released before the baby is born.

Recorder Ayers told her she had breached the trust of her employer and the elderly couple by what she did.

'You stole that money in order to feed your lifestye, not through necessity.'

He said she had also tried to impress her partner at the time by making out she was more successful at gambling than she was.

Jonathon Morgans, for Gayet, said she was full of remorse and regret, and said she had been relieved when the thefts were discovered.

He said she had been addicted to gambling, but had sought help and counselling and had now stopped.

'She has been under no illusion how serious this matter is,' added Mr Morgans. 'It is not a case where she set out to take the amounts she did.'

He said that she was expecting her first child and with the added worry about the court appearance it had been a difficult time for her.

After the case a spokesman for the Chelsea Building Society said: 'The Society takes it's responsibilities regarding the security of customer's monies very seriously and as soon as this fraud was identified took steps to ensure that those customers affected have been fully recompensed. The Society has no further comment to make at this stage."

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