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Felixstowe: Compulsive gambler stole nearly £8,000 from slot machines at Charles Manning arcade where he worked

PUBLISHED: 14:39 11 April 2014 | UPDATED: 14:39 11 April 2014

Paul Elphick

Paul Elphick

Archant

A compulsive gambler has been jailed after stealing nearly £8,000 from the Felixstowe arcade where he worked to fund his slot machine habit.

Ipswich magistrates heard Paul Elphick’s fixation began when he won £500 from a machine while employed at the Charles Manning-owned Arcadian.

Elphick, of Maidstone Road, Felixstowe, was sentenced to 20 weeks’ imprisonment after admitting five counts of theft by employee.

The 23-year-old stole a total of £7,880 from the Hamilton Road arcade between August 20 and October 21 last year.

John Hughes, representing Elphick, said: “It’s clear from speaking to Mr Elphick that he was not aware just how much he was taking. He accepts his gambling habit was out of control. As often with people who have a gambling habit they lose sight of the money they are taking.

“What he says is he started gambling during his breaks whilst working there never having had a gambling habit before.

“He won a very large amount of money on one occasion - £500 – and that spurred him on in the belief that he would be able to get a lot of money from gambling.”

However, soon Elphick was losing money. He began to fund his gambling by stealing from the arcade and then took more in the hope of repaying the original amounts he had stolen.

Mr Hughes said: “It became an obsession to play the machines in the hope of winning the money back. He believed he would make sufficient money to put the money back, but the addiction had got a firm hold.

“What the whole affair has done is bring about an abrupt halt to his gambling.”

Earlier prosecutor Anita Addison had told the court the owners of Arcadian Charlie and Jonny Manning had nearly closed the business down due to a downturn in the profits before they realised what Elphick was doing. Had they done so it would have meant the loss of three jobs.

Both men had trusted Elphick implicitly to work in the arcade which has 17 machines, four of which pay £500 jackpots.

When CCTV was checked last October Elphick was seen to open a machine’s note acceptor, take cash out, and pocket it, magistrates were told.

Ms Addison said after Elphick took money from the arcade he would go to Corals and Ladbrokes to gamble it.

A probation officer who compiled a Elphick’s pre-sentence report said: “He described it as a roller coaster where he just got in too deep.”

After Elphick was sentenced to prison Jonny Manning said: “It seems like a firm decision.

“We have inherited a responsibility to continue running a 70-year-old family business and we do rely on our staff to be trustworthy. Unfortunately Paul made decisions otherwise, and his actions jeopardised the stability of our business and the jobs of our team.

“I hope he benefits long-term by being made responsible for his actions.”

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