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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 April, 2005, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
Woman 'admits gambling some cash'
A woman accused of gambling away thousands of pounds using money from an elderly woman she was caring for has admitted spending some of the cash.

Beverley Bowler is accused of stealing more than 34,000 from 83-year-old Elizabeth Cooper, known as Betty, Exeter Crown Court has heard.

Ms Bowler said she spent some money because "it was what Betty wanted".

The 54-year-old, from Alma Road, Brixham, Devon, denies 19 specimen charges of theft.

'Close friends'

Defence counsel Ben Taverner asked: "What proportion do you think you may have gambled?"

"Half," replied Bowler, adding that the rest went on "paying off debts and general living".

She told the court that "every day" Mrs Cooper told her to get money and spend it.

"Did you think it was wrong?" asked Taverner.

"No, because it was what Betty wanted," said Ms Bowler.

Legal right

She told the jury that she and Mrs Cooper became close friends, adding "she introduced me to people as her daughter".

In the summer of 2002, Bowler obtained a power of attorney, signed by Mrs Cooper, which gave her "entire financial power" over the pensioner's assets.

Asked by her counsel whether she thought she had the legal right to use the money, Bowler said: "Betty told me it was all right to do so."

Ms Bowler is being tried on 19 specimen charges of stealing just over 34,000 between December 2002 and April 2003.

The prosecution has accused her of taking as much as 50,000.

The trial continues.


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