Ex-boss burgled bookies twice to fund his gambling addiction

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A FORMER manager of a Harrogate bookies twice used keys he had kept when he quit to burgle the offices, a court was told on Thursday, September 22.

Harrogate magistrates heard how a gambling addiction had sent Christopher Wood deep into debt and he had lost his rented home as well as resigning as deputy manager of William Hill’s betting shop in Beulah Street, Harrogate.

When Wood, 26, pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary prosecutor Michael Hammond said he had told police he had been angry with the bookies when he was not allowed to withdraw his resignation, tendered because of the unsocial hours he had to put in.

Mr Hammond said Wood, who is now lodging with a friend in Wedderburn Avenue, Harrogate, had quit his job on May 22. Less than a fortnight later he had entered the betting shop at 11.30pm and taken £250 in quick-cash vouchers.

Three days later, at 2am, he had gone back and stolen vouchers valued at £1,200.

Police could find no signs of a break-in but inquiries showed some of the money had been used on Wood’s on-line betting account.

Mr Hammond said Wood told investigators he had retained keys to the premises when he left but had now thrown them away. He knew others had ‘‘got away with’’ taking vouchers and thought he would take the same opportunity. In mitigation Carolyn O’Mahony said Wood’s record, which included convictions for burglary, theft, affray and criminal damage, had a gap from 2003 until his present crimes, offences committed while in dire financial straits and without a full assessment of the consequences.

He could not believe how stupid he had been.

Mss O’Mahony said Wood, who had handed in his notice when he became unhappy with his work environment, had received less in his final pay packet than he thought he would get.

He had used some of his haul to pay off debts – he still owed £8,000 - and was now working as a driver, delivering food to cafes.

After interviewing Wood court duty probation officer Danielle Southwell told presiding magistrate Pamela Henderson he had only recently accepted he had a gambling addiction and would benefit from help

He had stolen to buy himself time with those demanding payment and chose to do it in a way he knew others had done before him.

He believed he would probably get away with it.

Mrs Henderson imposed a 12-month community order with probation supervision, attendance on a thinking skills programme and 120 hours on unpaid work.

Costs of £85 and £750 compensation were also ordered.