By: Chandrashekar Bhat
An Indian-origin shop manager who tried to cheat an elderly man out of his lottery winnings of £130,000 has been sentenced by a UK court to 28 months in prison.
Narendra Gill checked the numbers of a lucky dip lottery ticket for 81-year-old Frank Gowland at the shop she managed at a shopping centre in the northern England city of Leeds.
Gowland’s ticket had the requisite winning numbers but Gill lied to him and kept the ticket stub for herself, ‘The Sun’ newspaper reported.
Gill, a mother of two, admitted in court to theft and fraud and was jailed on Friday (4) at Leeds Crown Court, where the judge told her she had been “unbelievably cruel”.
“People who work in these places need to hear the message that you cannot abuse your position when it comes to dealing with millions of pounds. Trust is so important,” the judge said.
Camelot, the company which runs the EuroMillions lottery in the UK, became suspicious when Gill called them and they heard her serving customers. The 51-year-old admitted she worked at GT News at the White Rose Shopping Centre in Leeds but said she was gifted the ticket and did not know where it was bought.
Camelot alerted police, who identified Gowland via CCTV footage, spotting him and his wife Sue, 77, getting into their car. “The whole thing has been quite a shock,” Gowland, a retired delivery man, was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
“I had no clue I’d won until I got this phone call. I couldn’t hear what the PC (police constable) was saying so I asked my stepson to deal with it. He said to the officer, ‘You must be joking, this is a scam’. Anyway, it wasn’t and I had won,” he said. Gowland, who wears a hearing aid, remembers giving Gill eight tickets to check.
She told him they were all losers and handed him back crumpled tickets, not realising she had switched them. The thrilled father of two eventually received his rightful winnings in November last year.
“It has certainly helped to make life a bit more comfortable. I bought a new car, cleared all my debts and gave quite a bit of money to my family. We’ve had new carpets and we’re getting a walk-in shower for my wife, who has health problems,” he said.
When approached by ‘The Sun’ before her sentencing, Gill said: “Obviously, I wish I had not done it. It was stupid.”
The shop branch where she worked has since closed.