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Last Updated: Friday, 5 May 2006, 13:16 GMT 14:16 UK
Banker plundered account for bets
Alex Cunningham
Alex Cunningham was said to have shown no remorse
A bank worker has been jailed for three-and-a-half years for stealing more than 270,000 from an elderly woman to fund his gambling addiction.

Alex Cunningham, 27, took the money out of 84-year-old Doris Galloway's account for sports and financial betting.

Cunningham, from Ainsdale, Merseyside, claimed the pensioner was also "an enthusiastic gambler".

He was found guilty of 33 counts of theft following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court in April.

Sentencing him on Friday, Judge Bryn Holloway described Cunningham as "callous in the extreme".

He has shown no remorse for the victim throughout this investigation
Det Ch Insp Bob Marsden
He said: "In total you staked more than 500,000 and suffered losses of 700,000, almost all of which came from the plundering of Mrs Galloway's account.

"The fact you were addicted to gambling may explain this offence but that can in no way excuse what you did."

The court heard that Mrs Galloway moved to Southport, Merseyside, in 2001, transferring her life savings to HSBC Bank in Lord Street.

Cunningham became friends with the wealthy pensioner, whose late husband was a business consultant, between January 2002 and May 2003.

He stole 271,885 from her account and was only found out when bank bosses noticed financial irregularities on some of the accounts he was using.

The HSBC bank where Cunningham worked
Mrs Galloway had transferred her savings to the bank in Southport
Cunningham used a Blue Square internet gambling site to bet on sporting events and daily movements of the financial markets.

John Gruffydd, defending, said his client had an addiction which had been cured by attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings.

Speaking outside court, Det Ch Insp Bob Marsden, described Cunningham as "arrogant".

He said: "He has shown no remorse for the victim throughout this investigation. He was in a position of trust, we go to the bank and ask them to look after our money.

"This was her life savings. Mrs Galloway had worked all her life and was at a stage where she should have been able to sit back and enjoy it."

Mrs Galloway, who was too ill to attend court, has since been reimbursed by the bank.

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