Published: 00:00, 10 December 2015
| Updated: 15:59, 10 December 2015
A prolific young offender defrauded a Maidstone bingo hall out of £400 in an ingenious scam using a homemade magnetic device.
Keiran Colegate fooled gambling machines into crediting his account as he played using a sophisticated and complex method, Maidstone Magistrates’ Court heard.
The 22-year-old would insert the magnet after logging onto one and then moving onto another to play.
Colegate was caught when staff at Gala Bingo in Lower Stone Street became suspicious and discovered the device, by which point around £400 worth of coins had been deposited.
Geoff Playford, defending, said: “This system was much too complex for the likes of us to understand and required a certain amount of ingenuity.”
The court heard Colegate, from Sittingbourne, had 16 previous convictions and a charge sheet dating back to when he was 12.
Kate Samways, prosecuting, said he had been uncooperative in his police interview and had even pretended to be asleep while being questioned.
Pam Young, from the National Probation Service, said Colegate, who has ADHD, had suffered a particularly miserable childhood, including being bullied relentlessly at school.
She said he had no friends and had never been invited to a birthday party, adding: “Boredom factors significantly in his life and I would say that is one of the reasons that contributes in part to his offending.”
Sentencing, Sheila Potipher, told Colegate: “Clearly you have a talent in electronics but you have chosen to take it in the wrong direction.
“You could use your talents for so much good, but instead you have racked up such a record of criminality.
“It is an extremely serious matter. This is in your hands now. You have got to turn around your life.”
He was given a 26-week prison sentence, suspended for a year and ordered to complete a community order including a rehabilitation activity requirement. He was also told to pay Gala Bingo £400 in compensation and £345 in court costs.