Sutton gambler pocketed her friend’s emergency benefits payment

Mansfield Magistrates Court
Mansfield Magistrates Court

A Sutton woman who stole her friend’s benefits after they were paid into her bank account committed an offence of “crass stupidity,” a judge ruled.

Mandy Steele retained a £187 emergency loan, and a £25 rebate, that were paid into her account, because her pal had no account of his own to receive Employment Support Allowance payments, between February 5 and 12.

“He visited her home address and she paid him the full amount of the ESA, but said the emergency loan had not been paid in,” said prosecutor Kate Hartley.

“When he threatened to call the police she said she would repay it.”

The court heard she told police she suffered from depression, and had a gambling problem.

Morgan Hogarth, mitigating, said Steele agreed with the victim’s account, except the length of time involved, and said she wanted to end the arrangement, which had been going on for a year.

Steele, 48, of Welbeck Street, admitted the theft when she appeared at Mansfield Magistrates Court, on Wednesday.

District judge Jonathan Taaffe said: “This is an offence of crass stupidity. You were told that if you paid the money back you wouldn’t be standing here today.

“It’s a breach of trust because there was an element of friendship. You have used every excuse under the sun and you have left (the victim) in a vulnerable position.”

She was given a two year conditional discharge, and ordered to pay back the £212 at the rate of ten pounds a week. She must also pay £85 costs and a £20 government surcharge.