The carer and close friend of Councillor Bill Thomas, the former leader of Sandwell Council, stole money off him to pay off drug dealers.

Gareth Hall, aged 28, forged £1,300 cheques from the Rowley Regis councillor and used his credit card nine times taking over £1,000 pounds .

However, when quizzed by Natwest bank concerning the cheques Cllr Thomas denied knowing his live-in carer and was repaid £1,300 by the bank.

This led to a charge of theft being levelled at Cllr Thomas to which he pleaded guilty at Sutton Coldfield Magistrates Court on Friday and received a conditional discharge.

His solicitor Rakesh Bhasar said: “Mr Thomas is deeply sorry about what was a moment of madness. He did not realise the money had been paid back into his account because it is a very busy account and he has offered to pay the money back.

“Mr Thomas had trusted and was reliant on Mr Hall after he returned from a spell in hospital and needed a full time carer.”

He added: “When Mr Hall said what he did Mr Thomas had conflicting emotions because he had been betrayed but he was reliant on him.”

When sentencing Mr Thomas to a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordering compensation to Natwest for £1300 and £145 costs the lead magistrate said: “You are free to go and we do not believe we will be seeing you before a court again.”

Cllr Thomas and Mr Hall both appeared before Sutton Coldfield Magistrates Court on Friday and gave their address as Viking Rise, Rowley Regis.

Mr Hall wept as he pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud and his defence Julian Berg said that ’drugs were the root of the problem’ and ‘he was now attending drug treatment’.

He will be sentenced on December 4 after magistrates consider probation reports.

Cllr Thomas stepped down as leader of Sandwell Council after being charged with theft and is also set to leave his post as Rowley Regis councillor.