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Roulette-addicted gran stole £100,000 from care home

Sarah McGartland from Glasgow would go online and place 60 bets at a time from home.

Sentencing: Woman sentenced to 20 months in jail in Glasgow.
Sentencing: Woman sentenced to 20 months in jail in Glasgow. Stephen Sweeney

A grandmother stole £100,000 from a care home company to fund her online roulette addiction.

Sarah McGartland banned herself from going to a bookmaker, but would instead put on 60 bets at a time from home.

The 51-year-old abused her position as an accounts clerk with firm Harvery's Healthcare to transfer cash into her account.

McGartland's 11-month scam came to an end when she was caught by her boss.

She was sentenced to 20 months in prison at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Thursday having pleaded guilty to embezzling a total of £102,389 between January and November 2015.

It also emerged she had previously been jailed for forgery.

'It was a free-for-all until it was uncovered.'
Sheriff Andrew Cubie

Sheriff Andrew Cubie said it appeared McGartland was in the "grip" of an apparently uncontrollable addiction, adding that the crime was "systematic on a very significant scale".

The sheriff said: "I do think it is telling that you thought you had only taken half the amount you took. It was a free-for-all until it was uncovered."

McGartland had been working for the Ibrox-based company, which looked after around 40 elderly residents mainly on behalf of Dumfries and Galloway Council.

The court heard her duties involved filling out invoices to ensure any outstanding payments were made.

In November 2015, owner Bijay Kumar became suspicious while carrying out an audit check, finding the bank details on a payment request from HMRC had been "altered".

Prosecutor Pat Callendar explained: "They, in fact, matched the details of the account where McGartland's wages were paid into."

It then emerged that payments to four other accounts had been made. The court heard they were McGartland's.

Mr Kumar realised he had authorised payments without verifying the account and sort code information.

'McGartland's addiction was such she would not leave her home for a bookmakers, but use online platforms for roulette machines.'
Defence lawyer Alan Gravelle

She was confronted and confessed to taking the cash, later telling police she had four accounts including two that her husband did not check.

McGartland, of Ibrox, said she had aimed not to "arouse suspicion" while carrying out the crime.

Ms Callendar told the court how the scam had affected the firm, with "four or five staff" losing their jobs, causing reduced resident numbers.

McGartland's lawyer described her as a "prolific gambler", having lost almost £89,000 as a result.

Alan Gravelle, defending, added: "The addiction was such she would not leave her home for a bookmakers, but use online platforms for roulette machines."

He told the court - on one day - she put on more than 60 bets of between £100 and £200.

Sheriff Cubie said he had reduced the jail term from 30 months due to the guilty plea.

McGartland faces a further hearing later this year under proceeds of crime laws.

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