A DISABLED grandad who had more than £1,000 stolen from his bank account was shocked to learn the thief was a curry house worker he believed to be a ‘good friend’.
Mobility scooter user Leslie Morton, aged 73, only discovered the cash was missing when he tried to play the lottery online and discovered there was not enough money in his account.
The money was stolen by Akhtar Mahmood, who was working at Sheffield city centre Indian restaurant Butler’s Balti House on Broad Lane, where his victim was a regular customer.
Mahmood, of Balfour Road, Darnall, was ordered to carry out 120 hours unpaid work for the community after admitting five counts of theft at Sheffield Magistrates Court.
After the hearing, Mr Morton said Mahmood had turned up at his Oughtibridge home one night and offered to take him out for a curry, as he could no longer get on the tram with his mobility scooter.
Mr Morton, a former fruit and vegetable shop owner, said: “It’s terrible what he did – my family were even more upset than me.
“I thought he was a really good friend. I looked forward to seeing him.
“When the police told me who it was I didn’t believe them. It was a terrible shock.
“The worst thing was I’d got all my standing orders and direct debits and they weren’t getting paid.”
The court heard dad-of-one Mahmood, aged 46, had taken cash out at banks across the city and made transactions at a William Hill betting shop from his victim’s account in early September.
John Kavanagh, prosecuting, said: “Mr Morton did recall having gotten a lift from Mahmood who he knows from working in an Indian restaurant.
“He would often bring meals to his house as he struggled to get to the city centre in the evening.
“He gave no authority to Mahmood to take the card from his address or use the Pin.”
Danny Simpson, mitigating, told magistrates Mahmood claimed the bank card had been left in his car and he stole ‘in desperation’ to pay off gambling debts.
He said Mahmood contacted a lawyer and attended a police station to take responsibility for his crimes.
Mr Simpson said: “It will not surprise you to hear, having heard transactions were carried out at a William Hill, he had run up debts gambling.
“He’d also borrowed money from a loan shark - and lo and behold he was under quite a degree of pressure to pay off the debts.
“He felt guilty immediately afterwards and made arrangements to go to the police.
“He’s very sorry for how he committed the offence.”
The court was told Mahmood had previous convictions for dishonesty on his record from 2005.
He was ordered to pay back £700 in compensation to Mr Morton. The court was told he has already paid back £300.