A BANK cashier who became a gambling addict has been told to repay more than £13,000 he took from customers’ accounts.

Jonathan Woodward, of Windrush Valley Road, Witney, was handed an 18-month suspended prison sentence after he stole £32,600 between February and November last year.

The 23-year-old pleaded guilty at Oxford Crown Court to six offences of fraud against his employers, Halifax, who dismissed him after a disciplinary hearing.

He was investigated by the bank after the Earl of Donoughmore, who lives in Bampton, complained that £18,900 had been withdrawn from his account without permission.

Finding Woodward’s teller ID number had been used to debit the money, along with five other suspicious transactions, the bank passed his details on to the police.

When he was arrested, the defendant told officers he had taken the money because he had developed a £500-a-day gambling addiction.

Checks of Woodward’s bank account revealed many payments to betting shop Ladbrokes, as well as one payment for a rowing machine.

Sentencing him in June this year, Recorder Patrick Vincent said Woodward would also have to complete 250 hours of unpaid work and pay £300 costs.

He told him: “You are a young man with a good record at school and college and after achieving that it is nothing short of tragic that you find yourself here today. Although I would not take the view you targeted vulnerable people, you clearly planned the fraud to take money from the accounts of people you thought were the least likely to notice.

“And the fraud stopped because you were caught, not because you chose to stop.”

Following his conviction, the Thames Valley Police asset recovery team began an investigation into Woodward’s finances and a confiscation hearing was held on Friday.

Oxford Crown Court heard that much of the money could not be recovered because of Woodward’s gambling habit, but he was ordered to repay the £13,370.45 he had remaining within two months.

If he doesn’t he could face nine months in prison and still have to repay the cash. The court also imposed a compensation order, which means all of the money received by the court will be repaid to the Halifax.

Phillip Croxson, police financial investigator, said: “This case shows that anyone convicted of acquisitive crime will be pursued for their assets, to ensure that crime does not pay.

“It is an important part of this process that victims of crime are recompensed, as far as possible, through the actions of the court.”