A GAMBLING addict stole from his employer in an attempt to pay off debts of more than £50,000 a court heard.

Paul Andrew Dodds admitted stealing £4,000 from Coral bookmakers in Bishop Auckland at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court today (Monday, February 25).

John Garside, prosecuting, said Dodds, of Oakfields in Hunwick, near Crook, had volunteered to pay the day's takings of £2,500 into the bank on November 17 and December 5 last year.

However, on both occasions he only paid in £500, pocketing £2,000 for himself.

Mr Garside then described how Dodds attempted to cover up the theft by adding a two in front on the 500 on the receipt slip.

Andy Clinton, mitigating, said the 46-year-old was addicted to gambling and, at one point, had debts in excess of £80,000.

He emphasised how Dodds had no previous convictions and had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, adding: “He knows what he has done wrong and wants to put it right as soon as possible.”

Magistrates agreed a probation report was necessary to sentence Dodds so the case was stood down for an hour to allow Craig McGuire from the Probation Service to interview him.

On returning to court, Mr McGuire described the thefts as unsophisticated and said Dodds had acted out of desperation.

He said Dodds accepted what he had done was wrong and that he would ultimately get caught but had felt he had no choice.

“He has hit rock bottom and he needs help with his gambling,” said Mr McGuire. “It’s as simple as that.”

The court heard how Dodds had managed to reduce his debts from £80,000 to £55,000 and was already making arrangements to pay back the money he stole.

Dodds’ wife was supporting him in court and Mr McGuire said he had recommended the couple get in touch with Gamblers Anonymous.

Magistrates sentenced Dodds to 200 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay a £60 victims surcharge.