Published: 14:40, 17 January 2020
| Updated: 14:42, 17 January 2020
A gambler barred himself from betting shops because of his addiction only to land a job with Ladbrooks in Maidstone.
That was, a judge quipped, "akin an alcoholic working in a brewery".
Father-of-two Mustafa Khader got into debt by using fixed betting machines, then stole money while working unsupervised for the first time at a branch in Maidstone, Kent.
The 31-year-old had locked the doors an hour before closing just so he could play the machines in the hope of landing himself a big win.
Maidstone Crown Court heard how he used credit he had never actually paid for, racking up huge losses before processing a £11,600 refund and then a further withdrawal of £9,233 just two minutes later.
Realising the tills would still not balance, Khader then phoned in sick the next morning and never returned.
The court heard he had a 12-year addiction and in 2009 had been jailed for three years in Argentina after being caught dealing class A drugs to pay off his gambling debts.
"However big Ladbrokes is as an organisation, it is right that their interests should be protected when offences later come to light..."
He then imposed a ban from betting shops near his home in Edgware, London.
Prosecutor Cerys Sayer said seeking a job in one outside his locality represented 'an element of targeting and planning'.
Judge Philip Statman remarked however it was "akin to an alcoholic working in a brewery" and said the bookmakers had a "moral obligation" to check an employee's background.
Khader admitted theft by employee of £9,233 and attempted theft of £11,600.
The court was told he had not gambled since but had not sought official help for his addiction.
Judge Statmanimposed an eight-month jail term, suspended for two years, and ordered the hapless gambler to undergo 30 sessions of a rehabilitation activity requirement.
"This is a breach with a high degree of trust. You knew precisely how to work the system and, you thought, to your advantage," Judge Statman told Khader.
"However big Ladbrokes is as an organisation, it is right that their interests should be protected when offences later come to light.
"You are a gambling addict. Whatever you tell me about not having gambled while on bail is not good enough for me."
Khader, who now works as a delivery driver, must also do 200 hours of unpaid work for the community.
The court heard he used the stolen money to pay off other gambling debts but is yet to repay Ladbrokes.
Craig Evans, defending, said Khader had put himself "in the worst position" by working in a betting shop, and then made "an extremely poor choice" in deciding to steal.
"Fixed odd betting machines have been his downfall and are known as the crack cocaine of gambling, such are their addictive powers," he told the court.
"Subsequent to this offending, the maximum bet allowed has been cut from £100 to two pounds because there is such recognition of the powerful addictive ability of these machines.
"On this occasion it started, as all too often the sorry tale does, with the gambler thinking they can make a quick profit and it would go undetected."
More by this authorPaul Hooper