Taxi driver smashed up gaming machine after losing takings while trying to fund his wedding and honeymoon

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A RECOVERING gambling addict from South Tyneside smashed up a gaming machine in a bookmakers after he relapsed in a bid to fund his wedding and honeymoon.

Jonathan Wright, 25, of Fir Grove, South Shields, damaged the machine in the Ladbrokes store in The Bridges, Sunderland, after he lost his takings as a taxi driver on November 8, Sunderland magistrates heard.

The court heard Wright took up gambling when he worked in a casino several years ago but had managed to beat the habit for two years before the incident.

Lee Poppett, prosecuting, said “Wright attended Ladbrokes in the Bridges as a customer at around 7pm and spent 30 minutes playing on a games machine in the store.”

Mr Poppett said a member of staff heard a loud thud and walked over to ask Wright what he was doing.

She said he then became abusive and swore at staff.

She added: “He then stood on a stool in front of the games machine and caused it to topple over and smash.”

Wright was arrested and told police: “I went to the bookmakers and I lost. I took out my frustration on the machine.”

Wright, who has one previous conviction on his record for assaulting a police officer, admitted causing £535 of criminal damage to the machine.

Toni Sowerby, defending, said: “Mr Wright had a gambling addiction. He got paid cash-in-hand as a self-employed taxi driver and he would spend all the cash in his pocket going into a number of betting shops.

“He lost a large amount of money and knew he had to go home to his wife he married in September and advise her that he had lost all the takings.”

Miss Sowerby said Wright spent 18 months in the army before he was medically discharged and started working in a Newcastle casino.

“This is where his addiction really took hold,” Miss Sowerby said.

“He was able to stop gambling for a period of two years. When he married last year he had a wedding to pay for, and, in order to do this, he began gambling again to pay for the wedding and the honeymoon. He then started to lose and this led to the offence at the end of November.”

Miss Sowerby said Wright has now stopped gambling and is waiting to go into residential rehab.

He was fined £110 with a £20 surcharge and was told to pay £535 in compensation to Ladbrokes.