A Holbrook woman has been jailed for stealing money from bank accounts belonging to customers at the Derbyshire Building Society branch she worked at.
Adrienne Wells, 23, of Moorfield Road, planned to steal money from customers so old they would not notice the thefts, including two victims aged in their 90s.
Cashier Wells was yesterday jailed for 12 months for taking a total of £40,000 from customers’ accounts.
Doris Cash, 94, knew she had not withdrawn £20,000 from the account which had been set aside for her funeral.
Although the retired barmaid used a wheelchair, she insisted on being taken to the society’s Sinfin branch to question the withdrawal.
A 96-year-old widower, who uncovered £2,200 missing, said: “They claimed I had lost my marbles and spent it.”
Jim Hunt’s family repeatedly insisted he had not withdrawn the cash from his account with the Derbyshire Building Society and eventually the thief who had taken it was brought to justice.
Wells looked for the savings of people who rarely withdrew money, suggesting they had forgotten about them, Derby Crown Court heard.
Ms Cash has died since the theft, but her nephew, Philip Elmore, was in court to see the jailing of Wells, who admitted defrauding five people of £40,000 between May 20 and November 16, 2013.
Mr Elmore, 61, said the society “kept insisting” his aunt had withdrawn the money.
He said of Wells: “This woman did a lot of harm and will be inside for six months. If you asked people if they would do six months for £40,000, they would queue up. It’ll be like going into a holiday camp.”
Grandfather Mr Hunt noticed the cash had gone when he received his annual valuation in March 2014. Papers said he had withdrawn the cash in July 2013. Staff claimed he had taken the money in cash from the branch in Ilkeston, where he is from, then later said the transaction had been made at its Sinfin office.
He said: “I could not understand how this happened because I had my books at my home. I didn’t know you could withdraw money from a building society without the books.
“I was not very happy when they kept saying I had lost my marbles and spent it. They kept saying to my daughter that she needed to jog my memory. They were just messing about and keeping it hush-hush. Then they finally came out and said where it had gone.”
The court heard that Wells had no assets to her name but claimed to have given £3,000 to her boyfriend. Police asked him for a statement on this but he failed to make one.
Wells also claimed to have handed more than £6,000 to a village pub. This has now closed and the former landlady said it was a £1,000 loan which had been repaid. Inquiries had been made into all Wells’ cash claims but Judge Ebrahim Mooncey said: “That still remains a mystery.”
The court heard that she had spent thousands of pounds of the money “on drink and drugs”.
Quentin Robbins, in mitigation, said Wells was in the grip of cocaine and alcohol at the time but was now clear of them. He added: “She realises the hurt and distress she has caused as a result of her offending.”