St Leonards gambling addict fleeced dying man

Southwark Crown Court
Southwark Crown Court

A gambling addict stole thousands of pounds from a man who lay dying in his hospital bed to blow on poker websites, a court heard.

Marcin Trzcionka, 32, of Warrior Square, St Leonards, took £14,458 from Gerard Campello’s online account after stumbling across his details while working as a PA for the victim’s boyfriend Kevin Caulfield at their Hammersmith home.

He made several transfers between January 15 and February 12 while Mr Campello was in a coma from which he would never recover.

Trzcionka turned himself into Belgravia Police Station on February 12 and said: “I just feel guilty. He was a good friend of mine.”

Mr Campello died in hospital the following day.

Trzcionka confessed to his addiction and police found all the money had been spent on gambling websites.

Handing him a 10-month sentence suspended for two years, Judge Martin Beddoe described the fraud as ‘utterly reprehensible and exploitative behaviour’.

Mr Caulfield works for Equal Citizen, an organisation working for greater inclusion for disabled people in society and is himself a wheel chair user, was unwilling to comment on the case.

Owen Greenhall, defending Trzcionka, said: “This is a case that clearly arises out of a man who has a gambling addiction. That has caused him various difficulties throughout his adult life – a lot of problems with his relationships and has led to very risky behaviour.

“Not just this offending but behaviour such as signing up to clinical trials as a means to raise money to fund his problem.”

Trzcionka has since signed up to a therapy group within the community, Southwark Crown Court heard, and has self-referred himself for residential treatment.

He asked for time off from Mr Caulfield to undergo a residential treatment programme before stealing the cash, but his boss asked him to wait because his boyfriend was gravely ill.

Trzcionka, who has been in the UK for the last five years, had previously been caught stealing from the couple and had been given a second chance.

He is now working as a driver for seasonal delivery service Yodel earning around £15,000 per-year but has a crippling debt of £60,000 to pay back because of his gambling addiction.

Judge Beddoe said: ‘Apparently behind this is a gambling addiction, but nothing changes the fact you were in a significant position of trust.

“You were given a second chance after you had apparently stolen from Mr Caulfield before and admitted that.

“You got hold of Mr Campello’s bank details and were then able to manipulate his account pretending to be him, taking £14,000 of his money to further your gambling addiction. This carried on even after he was taken ill and was in a coma.

“Like any addiction to drugs or alcohol, an addiction to gambling is no mitigation. You were exploiting a very serious position of trust.

“You attended a police station and confirmed that proper sense of responsibility by your plea of guilty, and you left a not admitting what you had done.’

“This was utterly reprehensible and exploitative behaviour, but your presentation at a police station entitles you to more than the third off [sentence] you would ordinarily get for a plea of guilty.”

He said he was prepared to suspend the sentence because Trzcionka had started to take steps to address his addiction.

Trzcionka admitted fraud by false representation.

Judge Beddoe also ordered him to pay back all the funds he stole at £300 per month, and complete 100 hours of unpaid work.

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