A lonely bachelor who was fleeced by his partner so she could fund her craving for online shopping and betting machines said he was taken for a ride ‘in the cruellest way possible.’
Malcolm Hibbert’s first girlfriend for many years, Karen Hughes, 50, from Lancaster, began targeting his bank account after he was left £56,000 by his elderly parents.
Within only seven months the majority of the money was gone after scrounging Hughes - who was living on state benefits - took control of her besotted boyfriend’s finances.
He said: “I had only just lost my mum but Karen suddenly got more involved in my life and was arranging the funeral and everything.
“She became my rock. I am normally very cautious with money but she wormed her way in and virtually spent the lot. I went into the bank one day and when I couldn’t get any money, they told me there was lot of unusual spending habits and showed what was left. It knocked me for six.
“I was taken for a ride in the cruellest way possible,
I was taken for a ride in the cruellest way possibleMalcolm Hibbert
“I just didn’t have a clue what she was up to. I thought we would have been sweethearts for life but it looks like ultimately she was only after me for my money. I feel like I’ve been taken for a mug.”
Mr Hibbert a delivery driver from Burnley, condemned his former lover as she was jailed for 18 months.
She splashed out on a string of ‘’staycation’’ seaside holidays in the UK for herself and 60-year old Mr Hibbert whilst secretly pocketing almost £20,000 of the legacy for herself.
In one three month period it is feared she spent £16,462 playing fixed odds betting terminals - dubbed the ‘’crack cocaine of gambling’’ - at her local bookmakers.
She also used Mr Hibbert’s cash to pay Wonga loans and set up internet accounts with Argos, Littlewoods and Next.
Mr Hibbert, an only child, who had lived with his parents for his whole life and knew little about finance only discovered he had been ripped off when he went to his bank to ask why transactions had been blocked - only to discover he had £10,000 left of the nest egg.
Hughes ended their relationship when she was asked about the money.
Burnley Crown Court was told Hughes began her relationship with Mr Hibbert in December 2011 whilst he was living with his widowed mother Ruth.
They never lived together but would see each other several times a week and she had keys to his property.
In September 2012, Mrs Hibbert, 84, passed away and left him with an inheritance of £56,000 which she built up with her late husband Alan who died aged 74 in 2003.
The money went missing between January 2013 to July 2013 before Hughes was arrested.
In a victim impact statement Mr Hibbert said he felt “frightened” and often had trouble sleeping and would “sit around the house for days on end, crying on a daily basis”.
Hughes showed no emotion in court as she admitted theft and fraud.
She had previous convictions for cheque book fraud and served a nine month prison sentence in 1993.
In mitigation defence lawyer Anthony Parkinson said Hughes had “significant gambling issues” and said her habit began during a previous relationship as “some sort of escapism from that daily life”.
But passing sentence the judge Mr Recorder Stephen Riordan QC told Hughes: “I have little doubt if it had not been discovered you would have gone on plundering his account until it was empty.
“The effect on him was devastating.”