Belfast Telegraph

Gambling addict thief told 'come back with glowing report or spend 10 months in jail'

By Alan Erwin

A gambling addict who snatched more than £1,000 from a parked van is facing up to ten months in jail unless he mends his ways, a judge warned today.

Sentencing of Edward Gibson was deferred to allow him a chance to deal with mental health and substance abuse issues.

The 27-year-old, of Clonfadden Street, Belfast, stole a bag containing £1,167 in cash from the vehicle's front seat.

The driver had exited to make a delivery at King Street in the city when the theft occurred in March.

Gibson was seen by a witness and on CCTC emerging from a bookmakers and taking the money.

His lawyer, Ciaran Toner, told Belfast Magistrates' Court it was an "opportunistic" crime committed by a man suffering from depression and anxiety.

Urging District Judge Fiona Bagnall to defer sentencing, the solicitor said: "His offending is fuelled by gambling addiction, mental health issues and most of all his solvent abuse."

He added that Gibson also wanted the chance to pay back his victim.

Judge Bagnall revealed that she had planned to impose a five month jail sentence and activate two previous suspended terms of three and two months consecutively.

But agreeing to the defence proposal, she told Gibson: "That's what you're facing if you don't come back with a glowing report."

He was ordered to return to court next April and to pay the full amount stolen in compensation.

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