Woman stole £30,000 from own gran to feed online gambling addiction

Tracey Holgate, 40, was caught when her gran couldn’t even afford to buy herself a pair of shoes (Picture: Cavendish Press)

A woman stole £30,000 from her own grandma over several years to spend on online gambling.

Tracey Holgate, 40, said she’d help her gran Doreen Gleave with her finances after the death of her granddad, Roy, in January 2013.

But soon after setting up a mobile banking app for her, Holgate started taking small amounts of money without permission.

Prosecutor Mark Kellet told Manchester Crown Court: ‘Doreen describes how approximately £1,200 per month would be paid into this account.

‘This came from her late husband’s pension and her own pension.

‘Doreen also says that on the odd occasion, Tracey Holgate would ask to borrow £30 to £40, promising to repay the money.

‘Doreen was happy to help her granddaughter, but did expect, as agreed, that the loans would be repaid. The money was never paid back.’

Over a seven-year period Holgate, of Alsager, stole a total of £30,000.

She had no previous convictions (Picture: Cavendish Press)

Holgate had asked her grandma to help with a bank loan of £8,000 in 2018, but didn’t repay the sum.

Then her dog needed veterinary treatment costing £400 in 2019, and Mrs Gleave offered to pay £100 towards the bill, which was also never given back.

She was caught after Mrs Gleave’s son – Holgate’s uncle – found out his mum, from Trafford, couldn’t afford to buy herself a new pair of shoes in 2019.

Concerned about Mrs Gleave’s finances, he called Holgate and asked her for some bank statements.

Mr Kellet said: ‘The phone call was disconnected and the defendant later told him that the signal had gone.

‘He then asked for his mother’s login details, but the defendant told him: “You don’t need them.”

Holgate borrowed money to pay for veterinary treatment for her dog, which she never repaid (Picture: Cavendish Press)
She spent £15,000 over 18 months on online gambling sites such as Gala Bingo and Paddy Power (Picture: Cavendish Press)

‘The following day he asked for a list of his mother’s outgoings and she replied: “Leave me alone, I am not dealing with this.”‘

Mrs Gleave then asked Holgate for the details, who said: ‘You will see transactions in my name, but I have done nothing wrong.’

She then eventually told her uncle: ‘Don’t tell anyone, I don’t want anyone to know, don’t tell nana or my mum.’

After the bank statements were uncovered Holgate’s uncle contacted the police and the bank contacted its fraud department.

Police later discovered Holgate had spent £15,000 over 18 months on online gambling sites such as Gala Bingo and Paddy Power.

Mitigating, Rachel Oakdene said Holgate had no previous convictions and could be trusted.

Holgate was given a suspended sentence and unpaid work at Manchester Crown Court (Picture: MEN Media)

She told the court: ‘The defendant has not been able to admit to herself and others about her wrongdoing.

‘She doesn’t admit to a gambling problem but accepts payments were made to Gala Bingo and Paddy Power.’

She added Holgate feels a ‘high level of shame and embarrassment’.

In a victim statement, Mrs Gleave said: ‘I have always loved and respected Tracey. I can’t believe she has done this to me.

‘I am losing sleep over this. I feel worried for her, we have offered help and asked if she has a problem and if we can help but she is in complete denial, leaving me heartbroken and with her no longer talking to anybody.’

Holgate, of Reginald Lyndop Drive in Stoke-on-Trent, admitted to fraud on the day of her trial.

On Wednesday she was sentenced to 23 months’ in prison which was suspended for 18 months, and ordered to complete 10 days of rehabilitation activities, 120 hours of unpaid work and a two-month curfew.

She was also ordered to repay Mrs Gleave £8,000 in compensation, although it is understood she had previously repaid some of the amount already.

Sentencing, Judge Elizabeth Nicholls said: ‘No doubt this is a tragic case that has tragic consequences. No doubt your criminality has torn a family apart and put a terrible sentence upon your grandmother, who, as you know, is the victim in this case.

‘You did take money on a regular basis. By your plea of guilty, you have acknowledged your criminality and responsibility for the loss of money which rests upon your shoulders.

‘You have found it difficult to acknowledge these offences and it’s caused you a deep level of shame – I accept that’s why you lied to all and sundry about your behaviour.

‘This has been a public acknowledgement to your family that you are responsible.’

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