Page last updated at 19:05 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 20:05 UK

'Respected' banker stole 200,000

Cardiff Crown Court
Baynton admitted buying a kitchen and motorbike with the stolen cash

A bank manager who stole 200,000 from customers' accounts, including a woman who was at the bedside of her dying husband, has been jailed for two years.

Menna Baynton, 44, of Treharris, worked a "sophisticated" fraud at the Mountain Ash branch of Barclays, over four years, Cardiff Crown Court heard.

Baynton, who is married to an ex-police officer, pleaded guilty earlier to nine charges of theft and false accounting.

Recorder Peter Heywood said her fraud had been "a gross breach of trust".

Baynton also asked for two other offences of theft, including stealing 54,136.22 from her mother-in-law's account - and three of falsifying documents, to be taken into consideration.

The crown court heard Baynton targeted elderly widows, friends and family.

You fobbed them off with excuses, gave lies and false accounts
Recorder Peter Heywood

Her deception was uncovered after the son of a couple who had died, William and Nora Maguire, said he thought his parents' account should have had more money in it.

The defendant admitted stealing 70,000 from the Maguires' account.

Iwan Jenkins, prosecuting, said a search of the Baynton's family home revealed 20,660 in cash, which she told police was to pay back her victims from selling goods.

He said she was stealing money from the bank through people who had faith and trust in her.

He said: "She knew which customers she could target and which accounts.

'Covered tracks'

"She admitted buying a 24,000 kitchen, paying in cash, and paid 9,000 for a motorbike."

The court heard her husband has since taken early retirement.

Tom Crowther, defending, said his client's husband had been a long-serving police officer who suffered from "the most dreadful depression" and Baynton's actions had led to him suffering a breakdown and taking medical retirement.

Mr Crowther said Mr Baynton had initially been arrested as part of the investigation, which had made his illness worse, although no charges were brought against him.

At the sentencing on Friday, Recorder Mr Heywood said Baynton, who had worked at the Barclays branch since leaving school, had exploited her knowledge of her customers and the way they conducted their business.

'Excuses and lies'

He said: "This was, in my view, a sophisticated theft. You covered your tracks by moving funds from one account to another when inquiries were made by depositors as to the true state of their accounts.

"You fobbed them off with excuses, gave lies and false accounts."

He said she had enjoyed "if not a lavish lifestyle then a very comfortable living" with the money she stole.

After reading references about her, Mr Heywood told her: "Clearly you are of some standing in the community, well-respected and a caring and loving mother."

Barclays has repaid the customers who lost money and is taking a civil action against Baynton to recoup its losses, the court was told.

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