An NHS manager who gambled over £400,000 of social security payments in betting sprees was jailed this week.

Walter Hurley, former resettlement manager of subcontracted services at Lifecare trust, Surrey, was sentenced by Guildford crown court to serve two years and nine months.

Mr Hurley, 68, pleaded guilty to 25 charges of theft, three charges of procuring the execution of a valuable security and one charge of conspiracy to defraud.

Gordon Baggs, 49, former owner of Eastry House residential home, was given a six-month sentence for conspiracy to defraud for his part in the crime.

Mr Hurley was suspended from his post in April 1998 after an anonymous tip-off claimed he had been defrauding the trust. Evidence emerged that in 1998, Lifecare had failed to repay Department of Social Security payments for patients in Royal Bay Nursing Home, when their costs had already been covered by Croydon health authority.

Inquiries also discovered that between 1993 and 1995 Mr Hurley had been putting repayment cheques from Eastry House into his own building society account.

Prosecuting, Simon Russell Flint said Mr Hurley had used the money to enjoy an extravagant lifestyle and by 1993 had come to the attention of Coral's bookmakers in Redhill, where he was deemed a 'high-risk' customer placing high-value bets daily.

Between 1993 and 1996 he staked over£500,000, making a total loss of over£100,000.