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Last Updated: Friday, 29 February 2008, 18:10 GMT
Housing chief is jailed for theft
A "particularly mean" housing chief has been jailed for nine months for stealing 100,000 from vulnerable tenants to feed her gambling addiction.

Estate manager Jean Harris, 50, preyed on the socially needy and insisted they pay rent in cash to feed her bingo and slot machine obsession.

She then cooked the books to hide her crime, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Harris, of Tower Hamlets, east London, admitted 26 counts of theft between December 2003 and November 2006.

'Betrayal of trust'

Passing sentence, Judge Geoffrey Rivlin, QC, told the weeping mother-of-two: "The evidence shows that over a long period of time you seriously abused your position.

"These were particularly mean offences in which you... tricked vulnerable people out of their monies."

She worked for the Crown Estate Commissioners - which manages the Monarchy's property portfolio - and turned to crime just weeks after starting in September 2003.

But her "betrayal of trust" ended when one of her victims was warned they owed hundreds of pounds in rent.

When she explained she had been paying cash to the defendant an investigation was launched.

A total of 19 people gave statements, explaining how Harris effectively stole a total of 63,721.

But her former employers gave evidence to suggest she targeted "considerably more" people and pocketed "well over 100,000".

She also admitted six counts of deception and two of false accounting.



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