Belfast Telegraph

Man who wrecked bookies in bet row has jail term cut

By George Jackson

A gambler who caused £1,550 worth of damage to a bookmaker's after staff refused to pay out what he claimed was a winning bet has had his sentence reduced.

James Kelly had been jailed for nine months last November for damaging five television monitors.

Yesterday he had it reduced to four months, suspended for two years, at the County Court in Londonderry.

Kelly (37), from Sackville Street in Derry, said he had his £20 stake accepted at McLean's on William Street in the Bogside on December 16, 2016.

However, when his horse won at odds of 8-1 the manager refused to pay out due to a technicality.

Kelly, a regular in the premises, lifted a chair and smashed the monitors.

The aggressive behaviour of Kelly, who was under a suspended sentence at the time for attempted criminal damage, was recorded on CCTV.

Defence barrister Jonathan Longman told Judge Philip Babington that Kelly had submitted a "slightly late bet on a specific event".

Speaking from the dock, the appellant told Judge Babington that his bet had been accepted and his betting docket stamped by a member of staff. He said when he presented what he thought was a winning slip the officer manager refused to pay him winnings of £180.

A pre-sentence report stated that Kelly - who at the time had alcohol and drug addiction issues - now accepted there was no justification for his behaviour, which was born out of his frustration.

Mr Longman said Kelly's behaviour was totally out of character. He explained his client had put the name of the horse on the betting slip but had not included the time of the race.

The barrister said Kelly had brought £300 in compensation to court, money he had saved over Christmas despite being an unemployed father-of-two.

Mr Longman said the damage caused to the five television monitors was covered by the bookmaker's insurance company.

Judge Babington said something was obviously wrong with the betting slip.

"I do not know what it was. Bookmakers are usually always the winners. That is why they are in a business where they make a lot of money at times," he said.

"However, your reaction to them refusing to pay out was totally unacceptable, and to reflect that I am imposing a Probation Order for 12 months."

Judge Babington replaced the nine-month jail sentence with a four-month sentence, suspended for two years, and told Kelly to pay the compensation of £300 within seven days.

Belfast Telegraph

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