Ipswich: Jail for bank manager who plundered �130,000 from clients’ accounts to pay gambling debts

IPSWICH: A personal banking manager for NatWest who plundered clients’ accounts and stole �130,000 to pay gambling debts has been jailed for two years.

Father-of-four Jonathan Huggins siphoned more than �42,000 from the account of an elderly couple and the worry he caused was blamed by their daughter for contributing to her mother’s death, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Huggins, 41, of Romney Road, Ipswich, admitted two offences of obtaining a money transfer by deception and four offences of fraud by abuse of position of trust.

Sentencing him, Judge Peter Thompson said Huggins had been in a position of trust and had exploited that trust in a “calculating” manner.

“Your victims were plainly targeted because you knew they wouldn’t query the advice you were giving them,” said the judge.

He accused Huggins of the “cynical use” of an elderly couple in their late 80s and early 90s who had trusted him implicitly.

“You took �42,000 from them and that is an aggravating feature,” said the judge.

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Godfried Duah, prosecuting said that at the time of the offences Huggins had been employed as a relationship manager for NatWest on Ransomes Europark.

He said that between 2006 and 2011 Huggins had been involved in fraudulent transactions totalling �130,604 and had transferred money from clients’ accounts into his own account, a joint account he had with his wife and his children’s accounts as well as using clients’ money to pay off his credit card debts.

Mr Duah said that in July 2006 instead of investing �20,000 of a client’s money into bonds, Huggins had transferred the money into accounts belonging to members of his family.

In September 2007 he transferred �50,000 from another client’s account into accounts belonging to his family and �18,024 had been removed from the account of a client who lived out of the country and some of the money used to pay Huggins’ credit card debts.

The court heard that after the death of one of his clients, Huggins had visited his widow at her home.

Mr Duah said the couple’s daughter believed that the death of her father combined with worries about money had contributed to her mother’s death shortly afterwards.

Richard Potts, for Huggins, said he had no previous convictions and felt genuine remorse.

He said that Huggins, who had been chairman of governors at a school and a cub and scout leader, committed the offences after his gambling addiction saw him running up thousands of pounds of debts.

He said the victims had been repaid by the bank and Huggins had offered money in his pension to his employers to repay them.