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Mum admits stealing £120k from aged uncle's savings to gamble on online bingo

A WOMAN told last night how she stole £120,000 from an elderly relative’s life savings to fund her online bingo addiction.

Karen Moore, who blew a large chunk of her great-uncle’s money, said: “I became addicted and couldn’t stop.

“I didn’t realise how much money I had spent until it got out of control.

“As soon as I realised, I went straight to the police and told them everything.”

The mum’s gambling habit was so bad that she blew £10,400 in a single night, Ayr Sheriff Court heard.

Moore, of Cumnock, Ayrshire, was given access to Francisco Barerra’s bank account when he moved into Nightingale House care home in nearby Auchinleck in August 2010.

She embezzled £119,678.44 from his account before she walked into Cumnock police office last April and told officers what she had done.

Moore, who was nine months pregnant at the time, said she thought she had taken £30,000 from her great-uncle’s account.

The next day, officers visited Nightingale House, where social workers told them Francisco’s payments to the care home were £10,000 in arrears.

When police spoke to him, he said: “I don’t take anything to do with my savings. My family takes care of them.

“Karen is like a daughter to me. I’m very shocked to find out about this.”

Francisco, who died aged 84 three months before the case came to court, didn’t want his great-niece to be charged, the court heard on Tuesday.

Robert Logan, defending, said Moore was told not to approach her great-uncle until the case was over.

He added: “Because of this, she couldn’t be there at the end, which is something she will regret for the rest of her life.”

Mr Logan said Moore had never been in trouble before.

She had previously worked as a residential carer and had access to her clients’ money, but there was never any question of her taking cash before.

Moore, who pled guilty to embezzlement during a previous hearing, told the Record last night: “I don’t want people to think I am some lowlife who stole from an old man. It wasn’t like that.

“There is much more to it than that. I didn’t mean for it to happen and I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. I’m not proud of what I did.

“My great-uncle was more upset I hadn’t told him I was having problems than he was about the money.

“I did my best to pay back as much as I could.

“We are a close family and they are standing by me. I don’t know what I would do without them.”

The court heard Moore had repaid £17,226 and put all her winnings, which amounted to £52,250, back into Francisco’s account. This leaves more than £50,000 unpaid.

Mr Logan said the beneficiaries of Francisco’s will he had managed to contact did not want any money back.

Sheriff Desmond Leslie deferred sentence until next month.

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