Page last updated at 16:18 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010

Lover 'controlled' bank manager accused of stealing 1m

A "vulnerable" bank manager accused of stealing nearly £1m was used as a "cash cow" by her "abusive and controlling" boyfriend, a court has heard.

Ania Wadsworth is at the Old Bailey for allegedly stealing £921,717 from Lloyds TSB in Golders Green, north London.

But Christopher Sallon QC, defending, said she only did it because of "threats" from Keith "Junior" Preddie.

Mr Preddie, 30, from Romford, Essex, denies laundering £145,370 of the stolen cash and forcing her to steal.

Miss Wadsworth, 28, of Archway, north London, admits taking £870,000 between 2002 and 2007 but said it was under duress from her boyfriend.

She denies a formal charge of theft.

Junior was, almost from the start, charming, controlling, abusive and violent
Christopher Sallon QC

The court has heard she regularly left the bank with bundles of £25,000 in cash and manipulated accounts to cover her tracks.

Mr Sallon, who said he would call an expert to show Ms Wadsworth was suffering from battered woman syndrome and post traumatic disorder, said: "The key to this case lies in the nature of the relationship with Junior and her unusual vulnerability.

"Junior was, almost from the start, charming, controlling, abusive and violent.

"He was wildly abusive to her. He would demand money in ever larger amounts."

'Crack cocaine addict'

The jury heard the couple met when Miss Wadsworth was at school.

Then Mr Preddie, who became addicted to crack cocaine, began aspire to smart cars, motor bikes and diamond jewellery, Mr Sallon said.

Miss Wadsworth, who broke down in tears as she gave evidence, told the court Mr Preddie had flown into such a rage when a boy rang her that he threatened to kill him and his family.

She said: "I was so scared someone was going to ring that when I was with him, I would put my phone on silent."

The case continues.

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