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Last Updated: Monday, 18 April, 2005, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
Carer 'gambled' woman's savings
A carer fleeced an elderly Devon woman of more than 50,000 to help feed her gambling machine habit, a court has been told.

Beverley Bowler spent hours at a time playing fruit machines as she frittered away Elizabeth Cooper's fortune, Exeter Crown Court heard.

Money was also allegedly used from the sale of Mrs Cooper's Brixham bungalow.

Ms Bowler, of Alma Road, Brixham, denies 19 charges of theft.

Amusement arcade

The defendant had been helping Mrs Cooper by picking up her shopping and pension and cleaning for her, the court was told.

After Mrs Cooper had a stroke in 1998 she made a will leaving her the entire estate when she died.

In 2001 Mrs Cooper moved into a Torquay nursing home and Ms Bowler rented the pensioner's bungalow out to pay the fees.

But Ms Bowler, who had access to Mrs Cooper's account, used a cashpoint card at an amusement arcade "where much,if not all, of the money was going", said prosecutor David Evans.

Bungalow sold

"It was quite clear money was being used, spent and lost on the machines," he said, adding that Ms Bowler was seen spending "hours at a time" gambling.

Mrs Cooper's bungalow was sold for 127,000 in 2002 and the money was paid into her account.

Ms Bowler "could not spend the money fast enough," said Mr Evans.

In four months more than 50,000 was taken out of Mrs Cooper's account by Ms Bowler before she was arrested.

In police interview, she said she understood everything was going to her eventually, so she might as well start taking it before Mrs Cooper died.

The case continues.

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