A “GOOD Samaritan” stole over £5,000 from a pensioner friend who had been hospitalised after a stroke.
Ian Sherlock, 51, had offered the 76-year-old victim a place to stay when he was homeless and “on his uppers”.
In January last year the pensioner suffered a stroke which led to him being put in a care home after treatment in hospital.
While he was away being cared for, Sherlock used his bank card to access £5,253 which he spent on drink and gambling, leaving the poorly pensioner with an account balance of just £2.
The victim was left £300 in debt to the authorities as a result of benefit overpayments to the account, which Sherlock had spent.
Sherlock, of Regent Court, South Shields, admitted theft.
Prosecutor Michael Bunch told the court: “He attended at the police station and made full admissions, saying he had, when living the complainant, made withdrawals at his request.
“He said he had then started taking money for himself, initially intending to pay it back, but spent it on drink and gambling.
“Eventually he was so fixated on those two activities he had taken the money when he knew full well it was never going to be repaid.”
Mr Recorder Andrew Baker QC sentenced Sherlock to six months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with supervision and £500 compensation.
The judge told him: “You are rightly ashamed.
“It started out as a friendship, where you had become, in a way, something of a Samaritan, when you were both on your uppers, he more so than you because he was homeless.
“You took advantage of he trust of that friendship to continue, without explanation, to make use of the bank card he had for the post office account into which his pension was paid.”
The judge said the suspension of the jail term means Sherlock can receive help to combat his alcohol problem.
Vic Laffey, defending, said Sherlock has been out of work since an accident in he 1990s and had got used to having extra income from the victim’s board payments.
Mr Laffey said: “He just continued to use it.
“The situation spiralled.
“He has not gone out into the wide world to commit and offence, this just fell into his lap.”
Mr Laffey said Sherlock does not have a long criminal record.