Gambler used stick to steal from machine

A GAMBLING addict used a stick to dislodge cash from an amusement arcade machine.

Warren Banfield, 20, of Canute Road, admitted stealing four £5 notes from Flamingo Amusements, in the Old Town, when he appeared at Hastings Magistrates Court last week.

The offence, which took place on April 15, put him in breach of a conditional discharge imposed on September 2 for causing criminal damage to cars in St George’s Road.

Mark Kateley, prosecuting, said: “He was observed on CCTV tampering with a machine and using a bamboo stick to dislodge notes.

“He expressed remorse to police after being arrested.”

Sue Lenier, defending, said: “He told police at the time that he had been very stupid.

“It was a spur of the moment thing. He had spent £40 on the machine and was annoyed.

“The money he got out he promptly put back in the machine and lost.

“He has developed a serious gambling problem since turning 18. He even rang up a gambling advice line.

“He has spent £5,500 on gambling in the last year and his girlfriend of five years has threatened to leave him.

“He is eager to get help but there seems to be no formal help available from the probation service.

“He has spoken to his mum about the problem and she is supporting him. He will see if he can get some help from Citizen’s Advice.”

District Judge Peter Crabtree fined Banfield £50 for theft and an additional £50 for the original criminal damage offence.