Cardiff manager stole £9,170 from dead man's savings

Claire Free did not use the money on expensive items or have a lavish lifestyle Image copyright South Wales Police
Image caption Claire Free did not use the money on expensive items or have a lavish lifestyle

A building society manager has been jailed for forging a letter from a dead customer to pocket his savings of £9,170.

Claire Free, 47, used her senior management position at the Principality Building Society to steal the money, giving it to family members.

Cardiff Crown Court heard the dead man's son noticed the account had been and the money was missing.

Free, of Cardiff, admitted theft and was jailed for two and a half years.

The court heard the grandmother, who had worked at the building society for 23 years, had asked junior staff to move money into her own account, telling them it was her "bonus".

Alison O'Shea, prosecuting, said: "Free was suspended from work and a letter was recovered from the deceased authorising the closure of his account. That letter clearly had been forged."

'Filled in holes'

In total she stole £187,170.63 from the bank and moved money on 149 occasions, using bank transfers and paying in cheques over a 10-year period.

Ms O'Shea said the money was spent on living expenses and "not on an extravagant or high lifestyle".

Kevin Seal, defending, said: "The money filled in holes in her and her family's financing."

Recorder of Cardiff, Judge Eleri Rees QC, told her: "It is astonishing to find you in the dock after living most of your life caring for your family and working for 23 years at a building society.

"But the reality is that over the last 10 years you stole money from Principality Building Society.

"You were in a position of high trust described as a senior role."

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