Darren Gledhill’s never-very-good luck has run out completely: a British judge has handed a two-year, four-month sentence behind bars to the man who emptied his own 70-something grandmother’s bank account of every penny she had before she died.
It started in June of 2015, when Gledhill swiped the equivalent of US$58,000 — just one-tenth of what he ultimately drained — from his grandmother’s UK bank account before her dementia set in.
It ended with Sandra Gledhill’s bank account completely cleaned out, leaving no inheritance for the family after she passed away in January 2018. Prosecutors say almost all of her $575,000 in life savings was plundered to feed her grandson’s gambling habit.
Gledhill was handed the 28-month jail sentence for his actions, which the judge in the case claimed had caused devastation that was “beyond calculation”.
Gledhill didn’t fight the charges and pleaded guilty to theft.
As manager at a local bank, he was perfectly positioned to pull off the pillaging. Gledhill told his grandmother that he would set up for online banking through Sainsbury’s, the bank he worked at.
That granted him full access to her account, and he wasn’t shy about taking advantage of that fact. The court heard that Gledhill stole amounts as small as $1.60 and as large as $13,500 over the course of a staggering 350 transfers into his account.
The majority of that theft took place after his grandmother had already been moved to a care home to be treated for vascular dementia. The embezzlement was eventually exposed after management at the care home noticed that the woman’s bills were more than $53,000 in arrears.
The defendant admitted that almost all of the money went towards feeding his online gambling addiction. A spokesman for the guilty party said that Gledhill was “in the grip of a downward spiral of depression” while he was systematically stealing from from his elder and incapacitated relative.
The judge in the case had little pity on the defendant, according to local news site, the Halifax Courier.
“You were a prodigious gambler and I suspect, as there is nothing left, a prodigious loser,” Judge Durham Hall told Gledhill at his sentencing hearing.
Getting Off Light
While the 28-month jail sentence could be considered light, it’s right in line with punishments handed out across the pond.
A former broker at JP Morgan gambled away $22 million of his clients’ money and was handed a five-year jail sentence in 2016.
Then there was the Philadelphia monsignor who got just an eight-month jail sentence for stealing from other retired priests to the tune of half a million dollars: he, too, had a serious gambling problem.
Meanwhile, an employee of the Clark County, Nevada district attorney’s office got off scott-free after embezzling $42,000 from her boss’s campaign fund. It was later revealed by a media investigation that DA Steve Wolfson had suppressed the incriminating information about his employee from getting out.
Just this week, Wolfson retained his position for another term by a 56 percent voting margin in local elections.
While cases like these often make the headlines, addicted gamblers such are actually pretty rare. According to a 2004 study from the Department of Justice, only three million Americans — or less than one percent of the population — are truly problem gamblers. While that group may be relatively small, they do tend to go to extremes to feed their habit.
“More than 30 percent of pathological gamblers who had been arrested in Las Vegas and Des Moines reported having committed a robbery within the past year, nearly double the percentage for low-risk gamblers,” the study claimed.