Gambling addict stole £25k from elderly woman she befriended

Clair Ransome was jailed for stealing more than £25,000

Clair Ransome was jailed for stealing more than £25,000 - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

A judge has praised an Ipswich postman whose actions resulted in the arrest of a gambling addict who stole more than £25,000 from an 86-year-old woman she had befriended.

Jailing 37-year-old Clair Ransome for 14 months, Judge David Pugh described Robert Speakman as a “knight in shining armour” and said he had gone far beyond his ordinary duties to ensure the elderly victim was protected.

Awarding Mr Speakman a £350 High Sheriff’s award, Judge David Pugh said Ransome’s dishonesty might not have been discovered if it hadn’t been for his careful observations and actions.

“He truly was a knight in shining armour,” said the judge, who asked for his comments to be passed on to Mr Speakman’s employer.

He said Mr Speakman had become concerned after seeing Ransome coming out of a shop with scratch cards, which she’d been buying in “significant” quantities.

Judge Pugh described the theft by Ransome as a “mean and despicable” crime.

“You stole from an elderly vulnerable lady who had turned to you for help. Over weeks and months you stole a significant amount of money from her without any thought about the impact it would have on her,” said the judge.

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Ransome, of Hawke Road, Ipswich, admitted stealing £25,286 from the victim between October 2019 and July 2020.

Jerry Hayes, prosecuting, said Ransome, had befriended the victim and had looked after her cat and garden and visited her in hospital.

She was entrusted to use the victim’s bankcard and PIN to withdraw £100 a week to allow her to pay her bills.

However, Ransome had abused the victim’s trust by transferring more than £25,000 to fund a gambling habit.

The court heard that Mr Speakman had become suspicious when he realised Ransome was intercepting the victim’s mail and when he asked the victim to open her mail in front of him it was discovered that she had insufficient funds to pay an £80 bill.

Stephen Mather, for Ransome, said she had no previous convictions and had a seven-year-old son.

He said she had become addicted to scratch cards and online fruit machines and had won and lost “tens of thousands of pounds”.

Mr Mather said Ransome, who cried throughout the hearing, was remorseful and had stopped gambling after seeking professional help following her arrest.

“She has no wish to gamble again,” said Mr Mather.

He said Ransome and her husband lived under the same roof but were leading separate lives and were planning to get divorced.

Mr Mather said Ransome had formerly worked as a shelf-stacker at Sainsbury’s and had no savings.

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