Devon

Fruit machine addict carer stole from Exeter clients

Slot machines
Image caption Anything Gibbons won went back into the slot machines, the court was told

A care home manageress who stole more than £8,000 from vulnerable residents and blew it all on slot machines is facing a jail sentence.

Exeter Magistrates' Court was told Hazel Gibbons of Wonford, Exeter, Devon, turned to gambling after her husband left her.

The 46-year-old, who admitted five charges of fraud, stole the money over a four-month period in 2008.

Her solicitor said she was "ashamed and disgusted" by her actions.

Gibbons, who had worked at the care home for seven years, was responsible for five residents with learning difficulties and dealt with their cash transactions.

She confessed her guilt to the care home owner in a phone call and three letters.

When she was arrested, Gibbons told police she was a gambling addict.

Prosecutor Karen Ball told the court: "Any significant amounts of money she won she spent on further gambling."

Defence lawyer Peter Woodley said no one would sympathise or understand her just because she had been gambling.

But after her husband left her she used fruit machines as a way of "blocking everything out", he said.

"She was going out whenever she could with pockets full of change."

Anything she won went straight back into the machines as she spent more and more time playing them.

Mr Woodley said things came to a head and she ran out of the money and confessed to family and friends.

Exeter magistrates ordered a pre-sentence report.

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