Gambler ordered to pay back cash stolen from Preston club

Burnley Crown Court
Burnley Crown Court
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A club steward who helped himself to more than £3,200 of the takings to gamble on fruit machines must pay back every penny.

James Martin, 60, had found the temptation of two new high jackpot gaming machines at Deepdale Labour Club in Skeffington Road, Preston, too much, Burnley Crown Court was told.

Martin, of Franklands Drive, Ribbleton, had earlier admitted theft of £3,241.89, between November 2013 and June 2014. He had no previous convictions.

Judge Jonathan Gibson had deferred sentence on the defendant last September, to give him a chance to try and show his commitment to repaying the cash. The court heard he had now paid back £125.

Martin, currently unemployed and on benefits, was sentenced to a community order, with 120 hours unpaid work.

The judge ordered Martin to repay £3,116.89, at £50 a month. He said: “The most serious aspect of the case was the breach of trust.”

David Bentley, defending, told the court he resigned from the club and attended the police station voluntarily before any offence was reported and confessed to theft.

The barrister said the defendant had repaid £125 directly to the club. When he last attended, he remained outside the premises until he was invited in by one of the committee members. He was directed towards another committee member who took the money from him.

Two days later, he received a letter suggesting that he had been expelled from the club and shouldn’t have attended. He wrote back, saying he had been invited. His daughter now took the money there.

Mr Bentley added: “He has remained focused on repaying the money. He hopes to pay more and hopes he can increase it once he has obtained gainful employment. He is actively seeking work.”

The barrister said Martin had been tempted by high value fruit machines. He showed a high degree of remorse and regret and was “ thoroughly ashamed.”

Mr Bentley said: ”He confessed his involvement and made full and frank admissions throughout the interview. He pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

“The defendant has sent a letter of apology directly to the committee and he’s expressed he would attend personally before the committee to explain.”