Woman used mother’s bank card to help feed gambling habit

A woman used her mother’s debit card to spend more than £7,500 to feed her online gambling habit.

Hazel Bruce, 40, now of Mackay Road, Inverness, admitted obtaining gambling credit to the tune of £7,549 on various occasions between 13th July and 22nd August 2016.

She was ordered to carry out 170 hours of unpaid work by Sheriff Ian Cruickshank at Lerwick Sheriff Court.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said Bruce had obtained her 70-year-old mother’s card legitimately to make a “simple purchase”.

“She had no authority to use the details beyond that simple purchase, but she is someone with a significant problem of gambling, and the temptation was too great to refuse,” he said.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said Bruce was someone who had never been in trouble before.
He said she had benefited from a university education, but had subsequently had mental health difficulties and “seems to have taken to gambling at some point”.

“It’s all gone badly wrong for her,” he said.

Mr Allan said Bruce had moved away to start a new life, mainly because of the shame she felt about carrying out the offence.

He said she was “building bridges” with her mother, but her sisters “don’t speak to her”.

Mr Allan said it had been “quite a low to stoop to,” but added there were no underlying issues. Bruce, he said, did not have a problem with alcohol and had since stopped gambling.

He urged the sheriff to follow a social work report recommendation for an unpaid work order to be imposed.

Sheriff Cruickshank said he was “surprised” that the social worker behind the report – which was prepared in Inverness – had seen fit to recommend the level of community payback order that should be imposed.

He told Bruce: “I understand you’re very remorseful for what you’ve done. I can understand the shame you must feel. It is a very serious matter. There was a substantial amount of money taken from your mother, and there was effectively a breach of trust.”

The sheriff said he could impose a custodial sentence. But he instead placed Bruce on a community payback order to be completed within nine months.


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