A former racing data gatherer for a national news agency who fraudulently used his job to win £15,000 worth of bets has been jailed for ten months.
Jack Bentham, 24, from Market Weighton, East Yorkshire, was told by the judge that the level of fraud he committed during his short employment with the Press Association – now PA Media – was “quite frankly staggering”.
The gambling addict had only been in his role for a month in October 2018 when suspicions were raised by a bookmaker about bets placed in the Goole area.
His offending started on his first unsupervised day in the job at the agency’s headquarters in Howden, East Yorkshire, Hull Crown Court heard.
Part of the Press Association’s service was to set odds for bookmakers and Bentham would place bets on the favourite – and if it did not win he would swap its “label” over to make it the winner, the court heard.
That meant other losing gamblers were also able to claim winnings, while those who had picked the real winner lost out.
Catherine Kioko-Gilligan, prosecuting, said Bentham made around £15,000 from these bets, and was found to have around £5000 in credit when the suspicious activity was discovered.
The loss to the bookmaker was around £10,000, the court heard, but any money he fraudulently made was ploughed back into more betting.
Stephen Robinson, defending, said Bentham, who has a daughter and lives with his parents, had taken steps to address his offending.
He said: “Sadly from the age of 18, if not slightly younger, he became involved in gambling that swiftly led to an addiction.”
Bentham was left with “very nasty scarring” following a serious assault and could have hoped to raise funds for plastic surgery, Mr Robinson said.
The defence barrister added: “He admitted the offence in interview and made full and frank admissions and expressions of regret.”
Bentham had banned himself from the local betting shop and placed blockers on gambling online, the court was told.
He was now working as a designer and was due for promotion, meaning he would be in a position to pay compensation, the court was told.
Recorder Megan Rhys said the seriousness of his offending meant an immediate custodial sentence was necessary.
The judge said: “This was a serious breach of trust.
“The level of fraud committed over such a short period of time was quite frankly staggering and it started on the very first day your supervision ended.”
A Proceeds of Crime hearing will take place next year.
In August he appeared before magistrates to admit that between October 13 2018 and October 22 2018, at Howden, East Yorkshire, he committed fraud.