Gambling addict smashed up gaming machine after failing to win cash for wedding

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A RECOVERING gambling addict smashed up a gaming machine in a Sunderland bookmakers after he relapsed to fund his wedding and honeymoon.

Jonathan Wright, 25, lost his temper with the machine in Ladbokes in The Bridges after he lost his takings as a taxi driver on November 8, Sunderland magistrates heard.

Wright took up gambling when he worked in a casino several years ago, but had managed to beat the habit for two years before he fell off the wagon last year, the court was told.

“Mr Wright has attended Ladbrokes in the Bridges as a customer at around 7pm,” prosecutor Lee Poppett said. “He spends 30 minutes playing on a games machine in the store.”

Mr Popped said a member of staff heard a loud thud and walked over to ask Wright what he was doing, adding: He swore and replied: ‘I can do what I want’. He then stood on a stool in front of the games machine and caused it to topple over and smash.”

Wright was arrested, telling police: “I went to the bookmakers and I lost. I took out my frustration on the machine.”

Wright has one previous conviction on his record, for assaulting a police officer, Mr Poppett added.

He admitted causing £535 of criminal damage to the machine.

Toni Sowerby, defending, said: “Mr Wright has attended Ladbrokes and unfortunately he has lost all of the cash that he has put into the machine.

“At that point in time Mr Wright had a gambling addiction. He got paid cash-in-hand as a self-employed taxi driver and he would spend all the cash in his pocket going into a number of betting shops.

“He lost a large amount of money and knew he had to go home to his wife he married in September, and advise her that he had lost all the takings.”

Miss Sowerby said Wright spent 18 months in the army before he was medically discharged and started working in a Newcastle casino.

“This is where his addiction really took hold,” Miss Sowerby said. “Working on the roulette table, he saw a large amount of people winning large amounts of cash.

“Unfortunately, it seems, he didn’t see that people also lost their money.

“He was able to stop gambling for a period of two years between the age 22 and 24.

“When he married last year he had a wedding to pay for, and, in order to do this he began gambling again to pay for the wedding and the honeymoon.

“He then started to lose and this led to the offence at the end of November.”

Miss Sowerby said Wright, of Fir Grove, South Shields, has stopped gambling with the support of his family, and that he is waiting to go into residential rehab in June or July.

He was fined £110 with a £20 surcharge and was told to pay £535 in compensation to Ladbrokes.