A Kildare District Court judge has hit out at advertisements for internet gambling after a Waterford man appeared before him on a theft charge.
The defendant, a student at Waterford Institute of Technology with an address in Waterford, appeared before Naas District Court on April 5, charged with stealing a Garmin forerunner watch, priced at €358, from Harvey Norman, Newhall, Naas, on December 7, 2016.
The court was told that he had no previous convictions. But it heard he had a severe gambling problem which led to the attempted theft.
The defendant told Judge Desmond Zaidan that he had got “hooked on gambling” at the age of 18, several years previously. “I didn’t realise what I was getting into,” he said.
Judge Zaidan maintained that nearly every single advert now on the internet is related to gambling. “It is all about revenue,” he said. “You are inundated with betting ads. It was cigarettes and alcohol in the 1980s. Now it is gambling.”
This was “highly addictive,” he said, “and caused family distress and break up.”
Cairbre Finan, solicitor for the defendant, asked the court to take a certain view on the offence.
His client, he said, had gotten treatment for his addiction.
Judge Zaidan said the offence was at “the lower end,” and was told there was no loss to Harvey Norman as the item had been retrieved by the store. He told the student: “You really need help. This is going to dominate your life. It has already taken over your life.”
He said he would give the defendant a chance. “Don’t come before this court again. You won’t get a second chance,” he said.
The judge opted to apply the Probation Act and did not convict.