Gambling addict avoids jail

A gambling addict who racked up more than £85,000 in debts before making false benefit claims and indulging in a cocaine habit has narrowly avoided a jail sentence.

A gambling addict who racked up more than £85,000 in debts before making false benefit claims and indulging in a cocaine habit has narrowly avoided a jail sentence.

Steven Kimble had previously pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine and false accounting at Ipswich Crown Court.

The court heard how Kimble, 31, of Marshall Close, Ipswich, had become addicted to gambling after visiting a casino in Southend in 2002. His addiction had left him with mounting debts he could no longer manage.

Robert Sadd, prosecuting, told the court Kimble had falsely claimed housing benefit and council tax benefit from Suffolk Coastal District Council. In total, the overpayment totaled more than £4,200.


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His home was searched and eleven small bags of cocaine with an estimated total street value of between £300 and £400 were found in his fridge, all of which were for the defendant's personal use.

Howard Catherall, mitigating, said when Kimble began to gamble he was winning on a regular basis, but his luck soon ran out.

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He said: "Between March 2003 and September 2004, he won £260,000 and lost £345,000, making a deficit of some £85,000.

"He began to lose and upped the stakes to try to win back what he was losing. He borrowed from friends and family to cover debts."

It emerged Kimble was suffering from depression and had attempted to commit suicide.

Mr Catherall said it was about the time that he tried to kill himself that Kimble made the false claim.

He said: "There was rent to be paid and he had lost his job. He was not thinking very clearly, but his arrest was a wake-up call."

The court heard how Kimble had secured new employment in October 2004 and was in the process of paying back the money.

Mr Catherall said: "He has sorted out a repayment scheme and it will be cleared in two years. He is on the road to recovery but it's an ongoing road - he's still an addict."

Sentencing Kimble to a 220-hour community punishment order as well as a six-month curfew order, Judge John Devaux said: "You are an intelligent and able man but in the last four years you became addicted to gambling.

"You took in excess of £4,000 from the public purse. You acted dishonestly and the cocaine was part of the lifestyle in which you became embroiled.

"It's apparent to me you have made efforts to change your lifestyle. You have found yourself a job and you have worked hard at it. The public are better served by you repaying your debt."

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