A CALLOUS thief who stole £68,000 from a 94-year-old disabled army veteran and spent the money on holidays and gambling has been jailed.

Pauline Tagg, of Hay Lane, Braintree, befriended the elderly woman before taking control of her bank accounts under the pretence of helping her to do shopping.

Tagg, 67, then began to transfer the money between the victim’s accounts, withdrawing cash and making purchases using the vulnerable woman's bank card.

She also intercepted the victim’s post to make sure nobody could find out about her thefts and spent much of the cash on luxury holidays and gambling.

Suspicions were raised when the victim received letters from her bank and a utility company telling her of direct debit cancellations due to a lack of funds in her account.

Tagg was arrested by officers on July 25, 2017 and was jailed for two year and four months at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday, November 30, after admitting to stealing the money over the course of two years.

Sentencing her, Recorder Mark Weekes described Tagg’s actions as "a sophisticated theft that inflicted a high degree of pain on the victim.

He added: "You lived a luxurious lifestyle on the proceeds of the crime, an offence so serious that a custodial sentence had to be imposed."

Detective Sergeant Mick Carrington, of Braintree CID, said: "This was a particularly sad crime which targeted an elderly and vulnerable victim who had served her country in the army and also worked as a nurse.

"To have her life savings stolen by this callous individual left the victim understandably devastated.

"We will always work hard to bring those who prey upon, and take advantage of, elderly and vulnerable people, to justice."