A cheeky opportunist at a Gala Bingo club in a suburb of Stoke-on-Trent has recently hit the local headlines after ending up in the dock for swiping someone else’s winnings.
Light-fingered Dean Ward, aged 27, lifted a winning voucher worth over £300 from a slot machine being played at Gala Bingo in Fenton by customer, Victoria Smith.
It appears that Ward managed to exchange the voucher for cash before Mrs. Smith was aware it had been removed. When she, in turn, went to claim her payout from the cashier, she was told that there was only 10p credit left on it. It remains unclear how she was reunited with the stolen ticket.
Ward appeared at North Staffordshire Magistrates Court earlier this month, where he was charged with stealing the winning voucher. His defence team told the court that he only took the voucher as he was “down on his luck.” Once he admitted to his crime, the judge then ordered Mr. Ward to pay Mrs. Smith £301 as compensation for the loss of winnings, plus court costs to the value of £30.
Prosecutor, Clair Moss, told the court that Victoria realised she had won £301, and pressed the ‘collect’ button on the slot shortly after. However, when she went to use her ticket in another machine, it refused to work, and staff confirmed that there was only 10p remaining on it. When Mrs. Smith queried the large discrepancy, Gala Bingo employees checked the club’s CCTV tapes and identified two males who had used the slot machine immediately after her. One of them then proceeded to take the ticket.
It appears that Mr. Ward would normally have received a caution for the offence, but appeared before a jury due to him having no way to pay Mrs. Smith back. He currently says he is “virtually homeless” and is living with his partner’s mother. The court was told that “there are not sufficient funds to run the household,” and that his recent actions are out of character, leaving him feeling “very remorseful.”
How would you react if another player stole your winnings from right under your nose? On this occasion, do you think that the thief should have been made to pay Mrs. Smith more than just the value of the stolen voucher? Perhaps you think he should have received a custodial sentence or community service? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.