'It's in my account, so it's mine' - said Sunderland gran after spending nearly £2,000 wrongly paid into her account
A grandmother ended up in court after giving in to temptation when a post office accidentally credited her account with 100 times the intended amount.
Mandy Sloanes, 50, of Polmuir Road, Plains Farm, in Sunderland, was given £2,900 instead of just £29 in a digital transaction by staff at a branch in the city.
The carer was immediately told of the blunder and even signed a receipt before leaving the post office to confirm what had happened on October 9, 2019.
Staff informed her that her bank would be contacted to get the cash returned.
But little progress was made and Sloanes gave in to temptation by spending £1,971 in dribs and drabs in the four months to February 12 last year, a court heard.
When quizzed by police after they were informed, she replied “it’s in my account, so it’s mine”, South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court was told.
District Judge Kathryn Meek heard Sloanes had had a lengthy crime-free period, for which she gave her credit before sentencing, and told her: “You haven’t half let yourself down here.”
Judge Meek ordered her to repay only part of the money - £720 at £20 a month – after deciding full repayment would cause her undue financial hardship.
Prosecutor Glenda Beck said: “The defendant visited the Post Office on October 9 to make a credit transaction of £29.
“This was at a Post Office counter which transferred to her bank £2,900 due to an error, which was immediately identified by the shop owner.
“She was informed and agreed not to take out the money and she signed a receipt. Due to time, only £900 was returned.
“She was interviewed on August 17, during which she fully admitted spending the money. It was £1,971.
“When asked, she said ‘it’s in my account, so it’s mine’’. She said that she didn’t ask for it to be put into her account.
“She admitted signing the document when told of the error. She was told of the options she had.
“She could have written a cheque or bank draft, but she said she didn’t know she could do that.”
Jerry Armstrong, defending, told the court temptation had got the better of Sloanes in the period it took the relevant authorities to act.
He added: “I think it’s a theft every time that she made a withdrawal during that period, knowing at that point in time the money wasn’t properly accredited to her.
“I don’t know why arrangements weren’t made directly with the bank to get the money recouped, knowing it had been put into her account.”
Judge Meek also sentenced Sloanes to a two-year conditional discharge and told her: “You haven’t half let yourself down here.
“The bottom line is that you knew that it wasn’t your money to spend, no matter how you try to justify it.
“It’s criminal and it’s dishonest. It’s out of character for you.”
Sloanes pleaded guilty to theft including theft by finding between October 9, 2019, and February 12, 2020.