Grantham court: On-line bingo player ran up debts on sister’s account

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A woman who gambled away thousands of pounds of her sister’s money said she “rues the day” she ever logged onto online bingo sites.

Michelle Sheppard of Tarlok Green, South Witham, admitted theft totalling £2,250 between March 6 and March 11.

Grantham magistrates heard Sheppard, 39, had asked her sister for her bank details so she could make a purchase on eBay in the summer of last year. Towards the end of the year the victim began to notice small transactions debited to Paypal coming out of her account.

Tracey Ross, prosecuting, said: “She rang Michelle Sheppard and asked her if she knew anything about it.

“She then told her sister she had been using her bank details to pay for online bingo but that she would stop doing so.

“However, when she checked her statement the following month there were new transactions. She again apologised and said she would stop.”

Miss Ross told the court the victim “wanted to give her sister the benefit of the doubt” so did not close the account as she expected her sister would stop.

Miss Ross said: “In her statement the sister said she was very upset about what happened and feels let down by her sister. The amount of money she is out of pocket by has had a significant financial and psychological effect on her.

“The whole matter has got her down and depressed.”

Sheppard said she had been given permission to use the bank account until March 5 of this year when her sister contacted her and told her not to use the account.

Miss Ross said: “She accepts she had no permission to use the account after March 5.”

Judith Bew, defending, said: “It just became easy to get carried away and that’s effectively what happened.

“She never intended from the outset to spend that amount of money but it was far too easy to log on and get carried away.

“She rues the day, frankly, she ever logged on and participated in such an activity.”

Mrs Bew added: “She is incredibly sorry and ashamed to be before the courts.”

The court heard Sheppard had spent money on sites such as jackpotjoy.com and had won on occasion - once winning £1,000 - but overall, between March 6 and March 11, she lost £2,250.

Mrs Bew added: “Clearly there was a level of trust between sisters that had gone on. It is quite sad she has to not only pay this back but repair that relationship between sisters whilst accounting for her actions before the courts.”

Sheppard, who is unemployed, has begun repaying her sister but was ordered to re-pay the outstanding total of £2,140 in compensation which she agreed to do at £20 per fortnight.

Sheppard was also sentenced to six-month community order including a supervision requirement and 10 days of specified activity.