A “CUNNING and deceitful” gambler who stole more than £30,000 from a disabled family member has been spared jailed.

Karl Robson, 28, withdrew the huge amount of cash from the woman’s savings account, which had been set up by her mother to pay for future respite and residential care.

Teesside Crown Court heard Robson stole the money to fuel his gambling addiction, but was caught when the victim’s mother tried to withdraw cash and discovered there was only 36p in the bank account – instead of £31, 957.

But the father, who admitted stealing the cash over a two-month period last year, was spared jailed and ordered to compensate the victim, which could take more than ten years.

Emma Atkinson, prosecuting, said the victim “is severely disabled both mentally and physically and has never walked or talked. Her brain has not developed past a baby’s, she is wheelchair bound and requires round the clock care. She is completely mentally and physically disabled.

“She receives a disability allowance, severe disability allowance and mobility allowance. There is a savings account made up of the funding and money given as birthday and Christmas gifts over the years.

“The purpose of having the savings is for it to be used for respite care and the future when there will be a time for her to go into residential care.”

But she added the victim’s family has forgiven Robson who has since repaid £1,200 of the £31,957.

Addressing Robson, Judge James Brown described the crime as a “pretty spectacular breach of trust” and said the 28-year-old became “cunning and deceitful” as he continued to steal thousands of pounds from the vulnerable woman.

He said: “It is hard to think of a more vulnerable victim. This young woman needs to be compensated for to ensure for the future when her family, as and when, need to pass on her care.

“This is further evidence of the permissible effect of online gambling. You are, I accept, a hard working man with a history of army service. The sad reality is you committed an offence of the most gross breach of trust towards a young woman who is extremely vulnerable.“They trusted you explicitly. A bank account was set up for future respite care and for a time in the future when the family may no longer be in the position to care for her. The importance of the fund is clear.“It is my understanding you were provided with the bank details and told to discard them for a one off purpose but instead you installed an online banking app and withdrew money from the account to feed your gambling addiction. Inevitably you didn’t win the money back and got deeper and deeper into trouble.“I accept the initially offence was out of character but as your behaviour continued there was an elements of planning. Your behaviour became more cunning and deceitful.“You have a moral obligation to work hard and pay back the family who surprisingly stood by you. You have been extremely fortunate you didn’t go to prison today, you should understand how fortunate you are.”

Andrew Turton, defending, added Robson is extremely remorseful and vows to “work as hard as he can” to repay the huge amount of money he stole from July 22 to September 12, 2018.

Robson, of Tennyson Avenue, Middlesbrough, admitted one count of theft and was handed an 18-month sentence suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to take part in 20 rehabilitation days, carry out 80 hours of unpaid work and comply with a three month curfew.