Page last updated at 16:30 GMT, Friday, 29 January 2010

Lloyds TSB bank manager cleared of 1m theft

Ex-bank manager Ania Wadsworth
Miss Wadsworth worked at Lloyds TSB in Golders Green

A bank manager has been found not guilty of stealing nearly £1m from her north London branch over five years.

Ania Wadsworth, 28, from Archway, north London, had been accused of stealing £921,717 from Lloyds TSB in Golders Green between 2002 and 2007.

She admitted taking £870,000 but said she did it under duress from her former boyfriend Keith "Junior" Preddie.

Preddie, 30, from Romford, Essex, was found guilty at the Old Bailey of laundering £145,370.

Cash bundles

The court heard that Miss Wadsworth had been in a relationship with Preddie since she was 16.

She said she lived in fear of violence from Preddie, who was addicted to crack cocaine, and believed he would kill her or her family if she did not bring cash home for him.

A domestic abuse expert said Miss Wadsworth showed signs of battered woman syndrome and "learned helplessness".

The court heard that Miss Wadsworth would walk out of the bank with bundles of £25,000, stolen while she was loading cash machines.

But none of the missing money was traced to her and she had been living modestly.

If I came home without (the money), I would get hurt. I would die
Ania Wadsworth

Miss Wadsworth's own bank accounts were frequently overdrawn and she had taken out two £7,000 loans from the bank.

In contrast Preddie made little attempt to hide the money he got from Miss Wadsworth.

He put £145,370 of it into his bank accounts, bought two BMWs, a motorcycle and gold jewellery, and replaced his bathroom and kitchen.

Preddie also went on holiday to Australia, New York, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic and spent at least £20,000 on trying to set up a music business.

Defending, Christopher Sallon QC said Preddie had used her "like a cash cow".

'Sense of relief'

Miss Wadsworth said: "If I came home without (the money), I would get hurt. I would die.

"He would beat me up and if I didn't bring it, that would be an end of it."

Miss Wadsworth said she "felt a sense of relief" when she was arrested coming off a plane from Trinidad at Gatwick Airport in March 2007.

She was found out during a nationwide audit while she was on holiday.

Preddie was remanded in custody until 5 March for pre-sentence reports.

Outside court, Det Sgt Suzanne Ferris said: "We found no evidence in her finances to show she had any gain."

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