A JUDGE in Newtownards said too many people, the government included, are making money out of gambling for proper regulations to be introduced.
District Judge Mark Hamill was speaking at the town's Magistrates' Court (main picture) on Wednesday in connection with a 72-year-old man who stole hundreds of pounds worth of car air fresheners.
Daniel Orr (72), of Culross Drive, Dundonald, pleaded guilty to five theft charges relating to Rosevale Service Station in Newtownards.
On August 21 last year he took £75 worth of air fresheners and on August 28, 2021 - 44 'Magic Tree' air fresheners worth £77.
In January 8 this year he took 56 'Magic Tree' air fresheners and a take-away coffee with a total value of £107; February 5 this year - 68 'Magic Tree' air fresheners and a take away tea with a total value of £134; and on May 4 this year - 31 'Magic Tree' air fresheners worth £60.
A prosecutor said thefts came to light after a stock check and CCTV showed a customer, Orr, taking the air fresheners and leaving without making payment.
Police then recovered a number of air fresheners.
Judge Hamill said the thefts were a "bit bizarre" but he was told the defendant had stolen them to sell but had been unable to do so.
After reading a pre-sentence report, Judge Hamill said: "In effect this man is yet another victim of the gambling industry. Too many people are making too much money out of gambling for it to be controlled, the government primarily among them".
He said the government was receiving taxes from the gambling industry.
Judge Hamill told a defence lawyer: "They won't regulate the gambling industry but the upshot is people like your client have their lives ruined by gambling".
The lawyer said the defendant had worked all his life but the theft of the air fresheners had been a "failed enterprise" as they "obviously weren't selling".
Judge Hamill said it struck him that the defendant had an "addictive personality" who became addicted to gambling and then addicted to stealing 'Magic Tree' air fresheners.
The judge added: "He couldn't even sell them and kept on stealing them."
The judge said if the defendant stole as "much as one Magic Tree air freshener" again and used his car to do so he would ban him from the roads for a year.
The judge also gave the defendant a one year conditional discharge on the theft charges.
Orr was also ordered to pay £46 restitution for air fresheners which had not been recovered.