Fri, Apr 26, 1:00pm by Kevin Pitstock
A man from Mildura, Victoria was sentenced to 3 years of prison for stealing construction deposits from customers in order to feed his gambling habit. Terrence Peter Ryan is the owner of a building company which constructed sheds for customers.
In his capacity as owner of the building company, Terrance Ryan took $155,000 of deposits from 105 different prospective clients, then didn’t deliver on the building contracts. In all, Mr Ryan pled guilty to 24 counts of deception. One jury found him guilty of stealing $24,000, while a second jury found him guilty of stealing another $18,000 from his building company–and ultimately his customers.
In the sentencing, the judge stated he did not feel Terrance Ryan stole the money in order to live a lavish lifestyle. Instead, he stole the money to fund his gambling activities, which were motivated and sabotaged by his problem gambling.
As Mr Ryan got further in debt through gambling, he became desperate for money. This desperation led him to steal from his company’s funds, hoping to recoup the lost cash through winning back the money–a classic sign of gambling addiction. When the money from the contracts was lost, it was only a matter of time before customers began to notice their sheds weren’t being completed and their money was gone.
The three year prison sentence is not as bad as it sounds. The judge suspended 21 months of the sentence, thus giving Terrance Ryan 15 months in prison and perhaps half as much for good behaviour.
The Mildura case is not only a personal tragedy; it’s another black mark against the gambling industry in Australia. Cases of problem gambling are a stark reminder that some people cannot control their actions, though most gamblers are simple hobbyists who want to play cards, roll the dice, or play the pokies for the sake of fun, a few thrills, and even (in many cases) relaxation.
Each new case which reaches the newspapers or the local news is another new outrage for many anti-gambling advocates. No wonder lawmakers are continuing to push forward with new regulations.
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