'You stabbed him in the back': Callous thief stole £22,000 from vulnerable friend with learning difficulties after being trusted to look after his finances

A man abused the trust placed in him to look after the finances of his vulnerable friend by stealing more than £22,000 from his bank account.

Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 4:45 am

Christopher Hadden stole the money over a six-year period before the offending eventually came to light.

Leeds Crown Court heard the victim was Hadden's friend and has learning difficulties.

Ayesha Smart, prosecuting, said he is unable to read or write and asked Hadden for help looking after his finances.

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Leeds Crown Court

Hadden set up a Halifax bank account for the victim in 2014 which the defendant used to pay his friend's bills.

Ms Smart said Hadden was trusted with the victim's bank card details and was trusted to access his account.

She added: "(The victim) never gave him permission to transfer sums of money into his own account. It was only ever for paying bills."

The offending came to light in 2020 when the victim's stepmother found debt collection letters at his home.

She made further enquiries and discovered that her stepson had debts of around £6,000 to various utility companies.

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She challenged Hadden and he told her that the letters at the victim's home were old and payments were now up to date.

The prosecutor said the woman contacted her stepson's bank as she was still suspicions.

A review of transactions revealed money had been transferred into Hadden's account on multiple occasions since 2014.

Hadden stole a total of £22,323 from the account.

The court heard the bank has reimbursed the victim and is now taking action against Hadden in the civil courts to recover the money.

Hadden, of Elm Tree Close, Norristhorpe, pleaded guilty to theft.

In a statement, the victim said: "I constantly have nightmares. I can't sleep properly.

"I trusted Chris. Every time I got any letters I passed them on to him and he told me it was nothing to worry about."

Graham O'Sullivan, mitigating, said Hadden pleaded guilty to the offence at an early stage and is sorry for what he has done.

References were handed to the court describing Hadden as a hardworking family man with a "kind and compassionate nature."

Sentencing, Recorder Margia Mostafa said: "You did not show any of that compassion to your friend.

"He is a vulnerable adult and has learning difficulties which means he cannot read or write and is dependant on others.

"He trusted you to help him. He asked you to to help him.

"What you did in essence was to stab him in the back because you stole all his money.

"It was, in my view, a gross breach of trust."

Hadden was given a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and complete 12 rehabilitation activity requirement days.