Jail for Irish problem gambler

Tyrone man stole almost GBP 330 000 from employers

Irish internet problem gambler Eamonn McGirr (27) has been jailed for 20 months after stealing almost GBP 330 000 over two years from the tiling company where he was employed.

The prosecution said that McGirr wrote over 170 company cheques for false invoices, then deposited the money in his own bank account as his obsession with online gambling drove him ever deeper into debt.

The court heard that McGirr started betting on horses and football whilst at college, but then spiralled out of control when he started working and began playing online Blackjack, where at one stage he was responsible for thousands of transactions in a day.

Describing the case as "a moral tale of almost Biblical proportions", Judge David McFarland said online gambling companies needed to look at how they did business. He said that people with addiction problems could - apparently unchecked - gamble away thousands of pounds. He was also critical of credit card companies who he said had, at one time, seemed intent on throwing loans at anyone who asked for them.

The judge heard that on completing his education and starting work, McGirr took out overdrafts on two separate bank accounts, took a loan of almost GBP 5,000 from the Credit Union and acquired five credit cards. He lost it all to gambling, and then started stealing from his employer.

Prosecutors said that there had been no recompense made and that there was no immediate sign of this happening.

Judge McFarland said in sentencing McGirr that he had not only betrayed the trust placed in him and defrauded the company he worked for but potentially put at risks the jobs of all his fellow employees.

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