Those who suffer from a gambling addiction are often in denial about having a problem. One harmless bet can eventually turn into a vicious obsession that can utterly consume the individual and take over their life. It is common for gambling addicts to take out loans and credit cards or borrow from loved ones to pay for their addiction, which can consequently result in a continuous cycle of borrowing and gambling.

Gambling is incredibly addictive, and it can have damaging consequences for the addict and his or her loved ones.

Mental Health Problems

Forty-eight-year-old David Hockaday from Saltash admitted to stealing £18,000 from his ill and elderly father’s bank account to fund his gambling addiction. However, Hockaday has dodged jail after the court was informed that he had mental health problems and is autistic. He used his 82-year old father’s bank card and withdrew money on 74 separate occasions over a seven-month period.

Plymouth Crown Court was told that Derek Hockaday, David’s father, suffers from Parkinson’s disease and lives in a care home because of this.  Hockaday confessed his crime and told the court how he had used the money to pay for his severe gambling addiction. He pleaded guilty to theft of £18,080 between November 2014 and June 2015 and admitted the fraudulent use of the bank card.

Highly Unlikely to Commit Other Crimes

Emily Pitts, for the Crown Prosecution Service, told of how Mr Hockaday checked his bank balance only to find that his account had been wiped out. She said, “The defendant has no offences recorded against him, and he admitted it when the care home manager confronted him. He said he had a gambling addiction.”

Hockaday’s defending barrister, Nick Lewin, said that his client had turned himself into the police himself while accompanied by a friend. He also stated that it was highly unlikely that Hockaday would commit any other crimes and he was working with Gamblers Anonymous to overcome his gambling addiction.


Hockaday was given permission to sit in the court beside his solicitor while the trial was ongoing. He commented, “I do feel awful about this offence.”

Judge Ian Lawrie had read a psychological report on Hockaday before the trial and explained to the court that Mr Hockaday’s stolen money had been returned to him by the bank.

Hockaday was given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. He has also been ordered to pay £250 for prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £80.

Gambling Addiction and Families

When a family member is suffering from a gambling addiction, it can be difficult for loved ones to cope. The addict will likely spend a large chunk of the household’s money that would have been set aside for necessities. This can put a tremendous strain on relationships, which can begin to deteriorate because of this.

In many cases, the addiction will take over the individuals’ life, and he or she will distance him/herself from loved ones. As addiction is classed as an illness of the brain, the addict may not even realise that he or she is behaving in this way. The hostility towards friends and family from the addicted person is often enough to ruin the relationship, but the addict will not fully appreciate the situation until he or she moves into recovery.

Easier to Hide

A gambling addiction is easier to hide than other types of addiction such as drug addictions in which the addict will often display physical symptoms. With a gambling addiction, there is not likely to be any outward signs that an issue exists.

In addition, online gambling sites and betting apps make it easier for addicts to conceal the addiction. These sites and apps allow anyone who claims to be over the age of eighteen to place bets at any time. This means that those suffering from a gambling addiction can gamble from the comfort of their own home without anyone else knowing about it. Furthermore, most of these sites are available 24/7, so the individual can easily place bets at any point of the night or day.

Overcoming a Gambling Addiction

It can take a lot for someone to realise that he or she has a problem, especially with a gambling addiction, as the addict will likely just see it as a ‘hobby’ rather than an addiction. Once the addict has fully appreciated the situation, though, he or she can then begin to work toward overcoming it. If you choose us at Liberty House Clinic for your treatment, we will ensure that you are fully supported throughout your journey to recovery.

Our friendly and welcoming staff will make sure that you are comfortable and feel at ease at all times. We aim to educate you fully on your addiction, and we will explain the treatments that we believe would benefit you the most. You will never feel alone again. If you require any further information or have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us today.

Source:  Gambling addict stole £18,000 from sick elderly dad, Plymouth court told (Plymouth Herald)