A CRUEL thief who conned an elderly woman out of her £68,000 life savings and squandered it on luxury holidays and gambling will pay just £1 back because she has no money left.

Pauline Tagg befriended the Army veteran 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 woman’s post to make sure no-one could find out about her thefts and spent much of the cash on vacations and betting.

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

Tagg, of Hay Lane, Braintree, admitted two counts of theft and was jailed at Chelmsford Crown Court in December for two years and four months.

A proceeds of crime investigation was then launched to try to recoup some of the stolen cash, however, Tagg has no assets.

During a short hearing back at the same court, Judge David Turner QC said he had no option other than to enforce that she pay back just £1.

He said: “Pauline Tagg pleaded guilty in December last year to a series of thefts to an elderly victim.

“She had helped this woman with her finances and was was regrettably led into temptation.

“I am told the overall benefit figure is £68,068.03 and the available amount if £1.

“I make a confiscation order in that sum.”

Judge Turner added a nominal one day on to Tagg’s prison sentence.

Speaking after the sentencing Det Sgt 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 elderly and vulnerable people, to justice.”