A senior manager at a Carlisle bank stole almost £162,000 from vulnerable customers to fund a gambling addiction.

A judge jailed Adam McGinley for three years after hearing how he systematically pilfered money from dozens of Barclays most vulnerable customers in Carlisle.

He deliberately targeted victims who were too unwell to look after their own finances, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

McGinley, 35, of Waldegrave Court, Carlisle, admitted 29 thefts.

Beccy McGregor, prosecuting, outlined how the defendant, employed at the English Street branch since October 2007, was exposed when colleagues carried out an audit in February.

The investigation revealed a suspicious transfer from a client's account of £1,439. Within three minutes of this, the defendant ordered that no statements should be sent out to the customer.

When the auditor investigated further, it emerged that McGinley was linked to a further 45 suspicious money transfers. In every case, he had transferred money to his own personal bank account.

Of those transfers, 24 involved customers so vulnerable that they were under the Court of Protection. They included people with serious illnesses, or mental health problems that left them unable to manage their finances.

When the thefts came to light, McGinley told his bosses that he began stealing from customers in 2011 because he had “run out of money.”

“He admitted that he would then suppress client statements to cover up the fraudulent activity,” said Miss McGregor.

“He worked his way up through Barclays Bank and was placed in a position of trust over the [vulnerable client] accounts.

“He found himself in financial difficulty following the birth of his first child... He randomly selected accounts from which he transferred monies and would then stop statements being sent out so there would be no suspicion.”

McGinley told investigators that he did not see the vulnerable client account money as belonging to “real people.”

Miss McGregor said: “He had been constantly in debt since the age of 18 and had continuously obtained loans to cover debts, including credit cards and overdrafts. He described trying to gamble his way out of financial difficulty. He estimated that he had spent £21,000 on gambling.”

Miss McGregor then outlined some of the victims who were targeted by McGinley.

They included a 90-year-old woman who had £5,200 transferred from her account without her permission.

The court heard about the impact of the thefts on customers – all of whom have been reimbursed by the bank.

McGinley also stole from five customers with whom he had personal contact. They included a woman, who had recently lost her husband, who was so grateful for his support that she bought a present for his new baby.

“She felt she'd been targeted and was left depressed and angry,” said Miss McGregor. Another family, visited by McGinley at their home while their elderly mother was gravely ill, said they were devastated.

McGinley was promoted to assistant manager in July, 2015. He was sacked after his crimes came to light in February.

Malcolm Dodds, for McGinley, said the married father-of-two had been a man of exemplary previous good character, with a responsible job.

“But behind this fairly respectable facade,” said Mr Dodds, “lay hidden debt and a dreadful gambling addiction. And as we all know, it grows and grows and becomes completely out of control.

“That's what happened in this case.”

Mr Dodds said McGinley was cooperative once his crimes were uncovered but he had lost his job, his marriage, and his good name. But his family – including his parents – were in court to support him.

Passing sentence, Judge Peter Davies said that despite the strong mitigation, and excellent references, the extent of McGinley's dishonesty meant that there had to be a jail sentence.

The total amount he stole was £161,965.

After the case, DC James Aiston said: “McGinley completely took advantage of these customers, the majority who were vulnerable people.

"They welcomed him into their homes for appointments and trusted that he would help with their finances but all he did was abuse his position and breach their trust. I am pleased today that justice has been served for all McGinley’s victims.”