No payday for bet thief given €300 fine

Galway Daily courts Man sent to trial charged with pulling knife on Garda

Claiming the winnings of another man’s bet by pretending he’d lost his ticket didn’t pay off for one man, who received a €300 fine at Galway District Court.

Peter O’Donnell (36), with an address at the Doughiska Road, Doughiska, was convicted of theft by deception at Galway District Court after he claimed the winnings of another man’s bet he pretended was his own.

The court heard that on the evening of January 19 of 2019, Orhan Gulmez had placed an accumulator bet on several football matches at one of the machines in the Boyle Sports betting shop in Eyre Square.

He stayed and watched some of the games in the store, but went home before the final match had concluded.

His very small bet ended up having a payout of €100.55, but when he went back to Boyle Sports with his ticket days later, he was told that it had already been paid out, and that he’d have to contact Gardaí if he wanted any more information.

Mr Gulmez said that he had been sitting and chatting with another person next to him at the betting machine on the day he’d placed the bet.

The manager of this branch of Boyle Sports told the court that he’d been speaking with O’Donnell, who is a regular there, at around 8:50pm that evening, when he’d indicated he was waiting for the outcome of a bet.

Around 15 minutes later O’Donnell came up to the counter saying that he’d won, but lost his ticket.

After providing details including the time of the bet, the machine he’d been sitting at, and some of the teams on it, and then filling out a form, the winnings were paid out to him.

Gulmez then came in several days later with the legitimate ticket, seeking his winnings.

Defence solicitor Sean Acton said that his client is known at the bookies in question, and didn’t try to give a false name of otherwise conceal his identity.

“It’s not like a stranger who walks into the bookies, he would be known to you,” Mr Acton said to the manager in cross examination.

Garda Kevin Molyneaux collected cctv footage from the store, in which the victim identified Mr O’Donnell as the man next to him at the bookies, and the store manager also identified him as the person who had collected the winnings.

Mr Acton said that he was not raising an issue with the identity of the person in the video, but that the footage shown by Garda Molyneaux was only a ‘montage’ of certain times, and didn’t show the entire relevant period on the day between 5pm an 9pm, and was missing certain crucial information.

It starts when Mr O’Donnell arrived at the bookies at around 6pm, but the bet placed by the victim was placed earlier, at around 5:20pm he said.

Giving evidence in his own defence Peter O’Donnell said that he was at the Boyle Sports almost every day, where he would place roughly 20 small bets, and that he would lose a ticket once or twice a week.

When questioned by the prosecution Mr O’Donnell said that he didn’t remember exactly when he had arrived or left that day, or if he had stepped out of the bookies during the day.

Inspector Des Beirne said “Do you find it extraordinary that he [the victim] had the betting slip for the bet you claimed”, to which Mr O’Donnell said that he must have picked up after he lost it.

Inspector Beirne asked how O’Donnell could be so certain he placed the bet when he didn’t remember so much else.

“You don’t know what time you arrived or when you left. You have very little information on what you did in the betting shop. But you’re certain that you placed the bet.”

He said that O’Donnell must have “elicited” information about the bet from the injured party in order to claim the winnings from Boyle Sports.

Judge Mary Fahy convicted him of Section 6 Deception, noting that he was asked “a few simple questions, and he couldn’t answer a one of them”.

Concerning how easy it was for O’Donnell to claim the bet winnings in the first place, the judge added, “it would appear that Boyle Sports should look at their procedures going forward.”

The court heard that O’Donnell had 24 previous criminal convictions prior to this matter, the most recent of which was for theft.

Judge Fahy imposed a €300 fine on O’Donnell, and also ordered him to pay €100 in witness expenses to the injured party.