Slots Addict Jailed For Stealing $45k From Mother-In-LawSeptember 8, 2011 7:33 am
An Australian man hooked on slot machines was sentenced to two and half years in jail after admitting stealing $44,570 from his elderly mother-in-law in order to fund his gambling addiction.
In 2005, Mrs Powe, 67, became a resident of a north Brisbane nursing home with $2,000 fees then deducted monthly from her bank account. Suffering from dementia, Mrs Powe also entrusted her daughter Sharon Hawkins with her ATM card and power of attorney, but towards the end of 2005 discovered that her account had been closed owing $2,000 and that $20,000 of fees was still owed to her nursing home.
It then transpired that son-in-law Arthur Cyril Hawkins, a 39 year-old labourer, was investigated by solicitors before admitting to having a gambling problem. He then confessed to taking Mrs Powe’s ATM card and withdrawing a total of $44,570 from her account over 75 different occassions between March 2005 and March 2006, and gambling the elderly woman’s life savings playing ‘pokies’ and visiting casinos.
However, an attempt to recover her money through civil proceedings came to nothing after Hawkins and his wife declared bankruptcy and so Arthur Cyril Hawkins has now been sentenced in the Brisbane District Court for the crime.
Despite defence barrister Alexander Nelson claiming that “many people are affected by gambling, it causes many people to do things that are out of character,” Judge Douglas McGill, SC, was not so convinced.
The judge failed to accept gambling addiction as a mitigating factor in the case, and so sentenced Arthur Cyril Hawkins to two and half years in jail for fraud with parole due after 10 months.
Since the incident, Mrs Powe has been moved to a smaller room at the nursing home, and is now unable to receive the same standard of care she had been receiving before.