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Gambling addict who defrauded a woman and a charity of €30,000 is jailed

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard the money went to pay gambling debts.

Image: Leah Farrell via RollingNews.ie

A GAMBLING ADDICT who defrauded a woman and a charity of €30,000 by claiming to need it for medical expenses has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Gareth White (33) did not pay his first victim back €10,000 after a cheque she lodged for him bounced. He defrauded The Society of St Vincent de Paul of over €20,000 by claiming he needed it for urgent medical expenses.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard the money went to pay gambling debts. He has 44 previous convictions including fraud and was on bail at the time of these offences.

White, of Hogan Place, Dublin 2, pleaded guilty to deception charges against The Society of St Vincent de Paul and the woman on dates between October and November 2020.

Passing sentence today Judge Melanie Greally said the deceit involved in the offence against the first victim was “particularly reprehensible”. She said the amounts involved in the offending were “significant”.

Judge Greally said she took into account that at the heart of the offending was a gambling addiction which had spiralled completely beyond the accused’s control.

She said by his own account he has not gambled for the past two years and is committed to refraining from gambling.

Judge Greally sentenced White to three-and-a-half years imprisonment, but suspended the final 12 months of the sentence on strict conditions, including that he refrain from gambling for five years.

During the sentencing hearing, Garda Jason Weir told Aideen Collard BL, prosecuting, that the female victim had met White after answering an advert on adverts.ie to buy Dunnes Stores food vouchers for less than face value.

Garda Weir said in November 2020, White asked her to lodge a cheque for him saying it would take too long through his own bank. She did this and when the cheque cleared she transferred the funds.

Later that month he made contact again and asked her to lodge a cheque for €10,000 telling her it was needed for medical treatment for his sick child. The woman felt she had to help and lodged it.

She later got a notification that it had cleared and transferred the funds. The cheque later bounced, however, and the bank took the money from her savings account. White promised to repay her in an exchange of messages, but never did so.

The woman made a complaint to the bank and got €2,500 back as well as €900 that was frozen in White’s bank account. She is at a loss of the remaining €6,600.

The woman said in her victim impact statement that she was still in disbelief that a father could lie about his child being sick. She said White gave no consideration to the effect on her, would never stop scamming to feed his debts and would leave a wave of good-hearted people in his wake.

Gardai were also contacted by a representative from St Vincent de Paul to say that White had led them to believe he required urgent medical treatment in November 2020 in relation to a weak heart and cancer. He was given a total of €20,778 which he said would be refunded.

The charity also received an email, which White now accepts he sent himself, purporting to be from his mother-in-law to say he was very unwell in hospital at the time.

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Gardai arrested White and were able to see the money had gone towards gambling and not medical treatment. He made full admissions and admitted there was nothing wrong with his child. He told gardai he was sorry, but was desperate at the time.

He said he used a small amount, about €1,000, from St Vincent de Paul, towards medical expenses and the rest to pay gambling debts. He told gardai that someone was bringing him around forcing him to withdraw the money and he was in fear.

The garda agreed with Oisin Clarke BL, defending, that there are no trappings of wealth in White’s home and his previous conviction were not crimes of violence, but fairly similar offences indicative of someone in the throes of gambling addiction.

Mr Clarke submitted that the cheque White gave to the woman was a genuine one from a charity, but he was unaware that there had not been enough money in the charities account to cover it at that time.

He said White could not have known it would subsequently bounce, but he did capitalise on it.

Mr Clarke handed up a psychological report and submitted his client had a lot of difficulties in life, as well as suffering health conditions which currently put him at high risk in prison.

About the author:

Fiona Ferguson

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