A GAMBLING addict fleeced a pensioner of her entire life savings after she trusted him to handle her affairs.
Anthony Plant befriended his victim when she was in her 70s and took him on to do odd jobs for her while she was living in Harrogate Road, Leeds.
By the time she moved into a residential home some years later she trusted him implicitly, Carmel Pearson prosecuting told Leeds Crown Court yesterday.
By then a friendship had grown up between them and as her health deteriorated he was doing more for her, including shopping.
As a result she had given him Power of Attorney over her accounts with authority to buy things for her and claim his expenses back.
Miss Pearson told the court Plant's dishonesty only came to light last year when the care home where the 81-year-old was living found she was unable to pay her fees.
Suspicions were aroused because it was known she should have had more money in her accounts, including 104,000 from the sale of her home.
Inquiries then revealed Plant had withdrawn 52,460 from the pensioner's accounts over two years often making daily cash withdrawals.
He had also taken out a 20,000 loan in her name, paid a 13,600 cheque into his mother-in-law's account and bought himself a Ford Mondeo car for 11,345.
When he was called to a meeting by Age Concern and Social Services about the situation, he claimed he was only taking his expenses and had bought the car so he could take the pensioner out because she was having difficulty using a Zimmer frame, but checks showed he had only done so on four occasions.
He then said the cheque paid into his mother-in-law's account was to repay a loan, but that was shown to be a lie.
Miss Pearson said Plant's victim had been left penniless and because she had no funds left the state had now had to assume responsibility for paying for her to remain in the home.
Nigel Edwards, representing Plant, said he was a father of five who had never been in trouble before but had a pre-disposition to gambling.
"Once he was in a position where he had a pot of money available to him, pathological gambling seemed to take over for him, from that point forward that rocky road of fleecing her of every penny she had, began.
"He's been living a life of fantasy where nothing else seemed to matter except placing the next bet."
He said Plant offered his heartfelt apologies.
Plant, 65, of Broadway, Horsforth, Leeds admitted fraud of 77,405 and obtaining criminal property by fraud.
Jailing him for three years, Judge James Spencer QC said they were extremely serious offences. "Your gambling is your business, it is no excuse for the wicked crimes you committed against this poor woman."
"You gained her trust and built up a friendship with her. As this trust developed she gave you authority over her financial affairs, she had been lucky enough to amass a significant sum of money to see her old age in a nursing home but what you did was abuse her trust.
"Over a significant period you took money until she had none left. She can no longer afford her nursing home expenses and now feels insecure, concerned and worried."
ANTHONY PLANT: Admitted swindling woman's life savings to pay for gambling spree.