Castleford woman gambled away £7,000 of boyfriend's money as he lay seriously ill with brain injury

Leeds Crown Court
Leeds Crown Court

A woman plundered her boyfriend's bank account when he was in hospital with serious brain injuries and gambled away more than £7,000.

Sarah Sanderson from Castleford set up an account with online betting firm Betway in her partner's name as he was gravely ill.

Sanderson, 45, abused the position of trust she had been placed in when her boyfriend suffered head serious injuries in a fight.

Leeds Crown Court heard Sanderson and the man met each other in December 2015 and became engaged two months later.

Andrew Horton, prosecuting, said Sanderson's partner was tragically injured in a fight with the boyfriend of one of the defendant's relatives in May 2016.

He struck his head on concrete which lead to severe brain injury.

Sanderson was allowed access to his bank account so she could care for him and pay his bills.

The prosecutor said Sanderson set up the Betway account in his name in July 2016 while he was still in hospital.

Sanderson gambled away £7,199 of his money over an eight-month period.

The offending came to light in February 2017 when the couple split up and the victim went to live with his mother.

His mother contacted police after examining her son's finances.

Sanderson, of Barnes Road, Castleford, was interviewed by police and admitted setting up the gambling account when the victim was in hospital. She pleaded guilty to theft.

In a statement read to the court, the victim's mother described the offending as "disgusting" and said it had caused great upset to her family.

Probation officer Michael Clark said Sanderson had described in interview how she turned to alcohol and gambling as a "coping mechanism" when her partner was injured.

The officer said: "She said it was like a black hole that spiralled."

"She told me she is absolutely disgusted with what she has done."

Jane Cooper, mitigating, said Sanderson had no previous convictions and had not been in trouble in the three years since the offending.

She said the defendant and her family had suffered due to the length of time the case had taken to come to court.

Judge Geoffrey Marson, QC, said it was a "scandal" that the case had taken so long to be prosecuted.

He gave Sanderson a suspended jail sentence but told her she would have gone immediately to custody had he been sentencing her soon after the offence.

The Judge said: "If I had been dealing with it when I should have have been, I would have been sending you to prison immediately for 12 months.

"You were interviewed and admitted it. It has taken a considerable amount of time to get to this stage.

"I cannot begin to understand how it might have happened.

"Because of the delay, in my judgement, I have to suspend the sentence of imprisonment."

Sanderson was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for 18 months.

She was also ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid and complete 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days.