A FRUSTRATED gambler who threatened staff in a betting shop, demanding his gaming machine losses back, has been given a suspended jail sentence after a judge described it as a “highly unusual case”.

Leeds Crown Court heard for two days in a row in June last year Martin Adair put money into the machine in Coral’s, in Greengates, Bradford, at one point frittering away between £900 and £1,000 in under 20 minutes.

He became so angry with himself he started banging his forehead with his own fist.

John Topham prosecuting told Leeds Crown Court yesterday on the first afternoon, June 18, Adair put in around £60 which he lost.

He became upset and went up to the counter and asked staff member Deborah Grant through the security glass if he could have his money back.

He was persistent and told her: “I’m threatening you now, give me my money back or I’ll smash your head in.”

He then left the bookmakers but returned later saying he had just lost £1,000 at another betting shop.

At that point she made no complaint to the police but the next afternoon two other members of staff were present when Adair was once again losing money on the gaming machine.

He left and then returned about 7pm and lost between £900 and £1,000.

During that time he became increasingly annoyed and was hitting his head with his fist.

He said the machine was robbing him, and he again went up to the counter demanding his money back, swearing and threatening to kill the staff, adding: "I can’t handle losing the money.”

Eventually he left knocking over a table and chair as he did so and was arrested later that evening.

James Littlehales representing Adair said at the time he had a severe gambling problem and the offences of attempted robbery were brought about by his frustration at his losses.

“The money lost on the second occasion was his mother’s, rather than his, which caused him to react even more.”

He accepted the second occasion was probably more frightening for the staff, but he had not done anything other than shouting or screaming.

Adair, 22 of Folkton Holme, Fagley, Bradford, admitted both offences of attempted robbery at the Harrogate Road branch and was sentenced to ten months in prison suspended for two years, with 200 hours unpaid work and a 30 day activity programme.

Judge Neil Clark said they were serious offences. “Staff at small shops and betting shops deserve the protection of the courts and should not be threatened by anybody.”

But he said it was a highly unusual case where Adair was addicted to gambling and had put large amounts of money into a gaming machine which offered high rewards but he must have known they were present so the shops could make a profit on them.

“The ball is very much in your court now, if you can stay out of trouble and deal with your gambling addiction you won’t go to prison," the judge said.

Adair had a limited record for petty offending the court heard.