A teenager plundered his trusting grandfather’s bank account to help fund his “out of control” gambling habit, a court heard.

Mitchell Simons, who lived with his grandfather, already had a mutual agreement with him to pay back money he owed for his online gambling.

But, Durham Crown Court was told he covertly transferred a four-figure sum from his grandfather’s account into his own betting account.

Simons also intercepted post at the house they shared and used a newly-issued bank card, with its pin number, that his grandfather knew nothing about, to further help funding his betting habit.

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The court was told Simons’ grandfather, who has since died, was frail and in poor health at about the time of the offending, in 2020 and ’21.

Uzma Khan, prosecuting, said Simons has lived with his grandparents since childhood, but his grandmother passed away in 2016, and he would have been the only other person with access to the household post.

His grandfather developed concern that a large amount of funds had gone from his bank account, which only he believed only he had access to, following his wife’s death.

Miss Khan said Mr Simons senior described having a “positive” relationship with his grandson, depending on him on a daily basis, but he was unaware he was taking advantage of him, to fund his gambling.

She said “matters came to a head” on December 6, 2021, when he found his bank card in his grandson's wallet, having not even known it existed.

Miss Khan said there had been past concerns about suspicious activity with previous cards, which were revoked, but he was unaware the new card and pin had been issued.

Mr Simons snr said he never used an online account and usually used cash.

It emerged the total amount taken from his account, without his knowledge, by Simons was £14,584.

Asked by Judge Jo Kidd about reference to the overall figure being more than £30,000, Miss Khan said there was a signed agreement whereby the defendant was repaying his grandfather for earlier debts, of which he was aware.

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Judge Kidd said: “It looks like what we have here is further offending and Mr Simons snr appears to have come to a generous and charitable arrangement with his grandson over other money that had been misused.”

Simons was arrested and made no comment to police questioning.

But the now 21-year-old defendant, of Clack Lane, Northallerton, admitted five counts of fraud by false representation, plus one offence of theft.

The court heard the defendant, who was 18 and 19 at the time of the offending, has no previous convictions.

Simons, who was not represented, told Judge Kidd that he is in work and in a new relationship, in stable accommodation.

But the court was told he is no longer in contact with his family, who want nothing more to do with him because of his offending.

Asked by Judge Kidd if he was continuing to gamble, Kidd replied “no”, other than the occasional bet on sporting events like the Grand National.

He said he regretted his actions, which have had the effect of losing him his family.

Judge Kidd told him: “In total over £14,000 was stolen over a significant period of time from your own granddad, a man who cared for you like you were his son.”

She said, having read a pre-sentence report prepared by the Probation Service: “When you turned 18 you had an apprenticeship that came to an end due to the pandemic and it seemed you filled your days doing online betting.

“You were not in a position to afford the extent of your gambling and, due to your age and lack of maturity, that spiralled out of control very quickly.

“The obvious source to fund that was the man who did so much to support you over the years.

“You put in place payment plans, but you went on to commit offences of dishonesty against him.”

She said she had to balance his immaturity with the way he offended against his grandfather, which she described as, “a gross breach of trust”.

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But she said she had read in the pre-sentence report that it was considered that the defendant has now, “turned a corner” and he is starting to mature, “significantly reducing the risk of anything like this happening again.”

Imposing an 18-month prison sentence, she suspended it for two years, during which Simons must undergo 200 hours of unpaid work, take part in 41 probation-supervised rehabilitation activity sessions and pay £320 court costs.

She warned him that any failure to comply with the order, or any re-offending, would land him in prison with an 18-month starting point.