South East Wales

Barclays worker Gaynor Russ jailed for £167,000 fraud

A bank worker who siphoned off £167,000 from customers has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Gaynor Russ, 59, of Treorchy, Rhondda, stole most of the money from elderly or vulnerable people, as well as from her best friend, Merthyr Crown Court heard.

Russ, a counter manager at Barclays' Treherbert branch, had admitted 13 charges of fraud.

The court heard statements from victims of Russ, who was also a charity volunteer and church warden.

The offences were committed over 10 months up to May 2008.

The court heard, Russ, who had worked at at Barclays bank for 40 years, had trouble paying off her credit card in 2007.

Friends targetted

She used her position in the bank to move money in and out of her customer's accounts in a complicated way that would not arouse suspicion.

But while moving the money around, Russ was also taking substantial amounts.

The court was told one of the victims had learning difficulties; another was a widow who had let her late husband control the accounts.

Russ also stole money from her best friend, Gaynor Watkins. Statements were read to the court from victims who had felt betrayed by Russ.

Other victims were elderly and some were in care homes.

Victim Sharon Thomas had charge of an account of her brother Michael who suffered severe learning difficulties.

Lucy Crowther, prosecuting, said Mrs Thomas described Russ as "an honest, very caring person. A good all-round Christian and a church warden".

Mrs Thomas said she felt that Russ targeted her brother's account because he would not understand what was going on.

Image caption Russ had abused her position of trust, the judge told her

At least £20,000 went missing from his account in early August 2007, the bulk of which was later replaced over a series of years.

The court heard Russ moved large sums of cash in and out of a variety of accounts, juggling finances in an effort to hide her fraud.

She would find ways to delay customer statements to hide her activities and regularly had to step in to solve discrepancies.

Miss Crowther told the court Russ targeted a long list of people and organisations.

They included a local hospital league of friends for which Russ acted as treasurer.

Another to lose was former miner Garfield Beynon, 82, who had received a substantial pay out for ill health connected with his life down the mines.

Despite the fact that he struggled for breath and was spending part of every day on oxygen, Russ plundered his account to the tune of £55,000.

In sentencing Russ, the judge told her that she abused her position of trust and the fact her victims were elderly and vulnerable was an aggravating feature.

Russ had no previous convictions.