Mother who gambled away funds donated for ill son gets suspended sentence
A mother who gambled away £100,000 donated for treatment for her seriously ill son has walked free from court after a judge accepted she had been under "extraordinary pressure".
Nurse Stacey Worsley was given a suspended sentence at Leeds Crown Court by Judge Guy Kearl QC who said he agreed that she started gambling online with the money with the intention of increasing the funds raised to help her son, Toby Nye, who was battling a rare cancer neuroblastoma.
Judge Kearl described how Worsley began to chase her losses and the situation "spiralled".
He told her: "You became overwhelmed by the situation in which you found yourself."
And he added: "No-one could fail to be moved by your story."
Judge Kearl said: "You were under enormous pressure and I have no doubt that all of this started as a result of you wanting to raise the money for his treatment."
The court heard how Toby's £200,000 treatment was eventually funded after Leeds United football club became involved in the fundraising.
But the youngster died earlier this year, aged six.
Worsley, of Osmondthorpe, Leeds, was given a two-year jail sentence, suspended for two years, on Friday. She admitted fraud at an earlier hearing.
Judge Kearl said he had to balance the "extraordinary pressure" she had been under and the fact she had two other young children to look after against the dent in confidence this case would inevitably bring to others wanting to donate in similar circumstances.
He also noted that Worsley had not spent any of the money on luxuries for herself.
Judge Kearl said: "This case is unique. The confluence of mitigating factors takes it far outside the norm and are unlikely to recur."
The judge was told that Worsley ran up £140,000 in gambling debts.
He said the cash had been recovered from the online gambling companies and West Yorkshire Police currently hold around £135,000 which would be given back to major donors and other charities.