Gambler avoids jail term

A GAMBLING addict who stole more than £13,000 from his former partner and her Alzheimer’s-suffering mum has narrowly avoided going to prison.

Kenneth Wager stole and gambled away a total of £13,457 from the two unsuspecting victims’ bank accounts after getting hold of their cards and PIN numbers.

The 41-year-old Hartlepool man was spared instant jail when he appeared at Teesside Crown Court yesterday to be sentenced after previously admitting two counts of theft.

Instead he was given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to do community work.

The judge told Wager if he had been the carer of the elderly victim, instead of his then-partner, he would have gone straight to prison.

Wager, who used to work with Alzheimer’s sufferers, stole the elderly woman’s bank details from a kitchen cupboard where personal information was kept.

He intercepted bank statements to prevent his partner discovering what he was doing.

She ended the relationship after the thefts came to light when she was contacted by the bank about the withdrawals.

It is believed he spent much of the money on gambling machines in a betting shop.

Jim Withyman, mitigating, said Wager, of Stirling Street, Hartlepool, was currently unemployed but had “every intention of paying the money back”.

Judge Armstrong said: “These were particularly mean offences because you stole from not just your partner at the time who was completely innocent in all this, but you took advantage of your situation with her.

“You stole £1,871 from your partner. She was the carer for her mother who was vulnerable and incapable of looking after her own affairs.”

Judge Armstrong said the £11,585 Wager stole from her mother was “possibly all the money she had” .

Wager’s former partner, who wishes to remain anonymous, previously told of the impact the theft had had on her and her family.

She said: “I have had sleepless nights, anxiety and depression, which has had an impact on my family and at work.”

Wager was given six months suspended for two years and must do 200 hours unpaid work.

He will also be supervised by the probation service for the next 12 months.