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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Charity volunteer stole cash from elderly neighbours

A charity volunteer stole hundreds of pounds from his elderly neighbours in a sheltered housing complex.

Stanley Bamford photo
Stanley Bamford

Today victims of 64-year-old Stanley Bamford described his behaviour as “disgusting”.

At the city’s magistrates court, Bamford admitted stealing up to £600 from fellow residents at the Bishop’s Close sheltered housing scheme, off Stanhope Road, off Wigton Road in Carlisle. He carried out the theft between March 2012 and September 10 last year.

The court heard how Bamford was living in the complex when he agreed to act as a volunteer treasurer for the residents’ social fund.

Around 20 tenants – many in their 70s and 80s – would hand over £1 a week to build up funds for social events, such as bingo nights, leisure trips or fish and chip suppers.

The cash was often put in an envelope and posted through Bamford’s letter box.

But in 2011 suspicions were raised – and it was discovered that Bamford had no accounting system in place. A large amount of cash had gone missing.

When arrested, Bamford admitted pocketing between £500 and £600.

John Smith, defending, told magistrates his client had no previous convictions.

“He agreed to take over as treasurer of the group because their social activities were going to collapse,” he said, explaining that nobody else was prepared to take on the voluntary role.

“He felt he was backed into a corner and took over the job,” said Mr Smith.

He added that his client, now living in Carlisle’s John Street Hostel for homeless men, had issues with his mental and physical health.

Magistrates fined Bamford £74, with prosecution costs of £50, and a £20 victim surcharge. He must also pay compensation back into the social fund of £550.

Bishop’s Close residents said they were appalled by the way Bamford treated them.

“Stealing from pensioners in this way was the lowest of the low,” said former Pirelli worker Jack Stubbs, 72, who has been living at the complex for nearly a year.

“Some of the pensioners will have been struggling to pay even that amount every week. Most of the people here who lost out have written off the money he took.

“We’re just happy that he’s going to be named and shamed in the newspaper.”

Another resident, an elderly man, said: “We are a nice little community and what he did soured things. It leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. It doesn’t sound like he’s got much of a punishment, really.”

A female resident added: “What he’s done is disgusting.”

After the case, it emerged that Bamford has spent two years volunteering at an Age UK charity shop in Carlisle.

Alex Richards, director of business with Age UK Carlisle and Eden, said Bamford’s duties were restricted to lifting and moving stock after the allegation against him came to light and nor has he been allowed to handle money nor deal with customers.

Now that he has admitted the offence he would be told that he will not be able to resume his duties.

“We do Criminal Records Bureau checks on all our volunteers,” he added.

David Armstrong, housing services director at Two Castles Housing Association which runs Bishop’s Close, said: “We understand that a group of our residents had independently set up a savings scheme to help fund the organisation of some social events.

“We were sorry to hear about what happened to this and will continue to offer support to everyone affected at Bishop’s Close.”

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