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Gambler Brett Laver blew pub takings in casino


by Julia Roberts

An alcoholic gambling addict who stole thousands of pounds from the pub where he worked and then lost it in a casino has been jailed for 10 months.

Brett Laver, 36, was on the verge of being made a manager of his own premises when he helped himself to more than £10,000 of takings from The Hop House in Tunbridge Wells in August last year.

Maidstone Crown Court heard the father gambled away £4,000 during a visit to a casino in Brighton, and later claimed he had been robbed while on his way to banking more cash.

Laver had originally denied theft of £10,160 but changed his plea today Monday on what would have been the first day of his trial.

However, refusing a request by defence counsel to adjourn sentencing for reports, Judge Michael Carroll told Laver his late guilty plea and remorse carried very little weight.

“Had you faced up to your responsibility back in January when this case was first before the court, any sentence would have been long served and you would be in a position of being with your family and getting on with life,” he remarked.

“The fact this dragged on for another six months is absolutely down to you not accepting your guilt.”

Prosecutor Jo Cope told the court Laver was a deputy manager at the pub earning £20,000 a year. Money went missing from the safe while the manager was on holiday in August last year.

A local taxi driver later told police that he had driven Laver to the casino, said Miss Cope, and could recall seeing Laver with “a large wad of cash”.

“He took the defendant home at about 6am and casino records showed he had lost about £4,000,” explained the prosecutor.

Four days later Laver left The Hop House to bank more takings but returned, claiming to have been robbed.

“He said he had been hit on the head by a man on a bike and the bag containing the takings was stolen,” added Miss Cope. “However, there were no signs of injury.”

When the manager returned from his holiday an audit showed no banking had been done and £10,160 was missing.

Ben Irwin, defending, told the court that Laver had been an alcoholic for 10 years and stole the cash while in “the depths of despair” after his girlfriend left him.

“He was acting in drink, plainly not thinking appropriately, plainly not acting with any great malice but clearly behaving utterly unacceptably,” he said.
Mr Irwin added that a prison sentence would have a “highly sobering effect”.

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