A judge warned a recovering gambling addict and seaweed harvesting entrepreneur that his addiction could lead to a business failing “like that”.
Wild Irish Seaweeds managing director Evan Talty (33) of Caherush, Quilty, was before Ennis District Court on Wednesday in relation to three offences contrary to the Criminal Justice Theft and Fraud Offences Act.
He is the driving force behind the Clare-based business, which won a €50,000 investment on RTÉ’s Dragons’ Den in 2017. In an Irish Times interview earlier this year, Mr Talty valued the business at €2 million. The family-owned operation has invested €300,000 in scaling up its operations over the past two years.
Solicitor Daragh Hassett said Mr Talty – who is also well known in Clare sporting circles – committed the offences as a result of his gambling addiction which he said had now been addressed.
Mr Hassett said Mr Talty “was a very unsuccessful gambler and chased his losses and lost a vast sum of his own personal savings”.
He said: “Unfortunately, the ability is there for young people to gamble at your dinner table, in your bedroom – that has all been taken off him now, judge and he hasn’t gambled since.”
Mr Hassett said the State was happy in the case that full redress or compensation had been made by Mr Talty.
Mr Hassett handed in a certificate showing that Mr Talty has undergone treatment for his gambling addiction in Ennis and Dublin.
Judge Patrick Durcan said he would strike out the case against Mr Talty.
He told him: “I know he is dealing seriously with his problem.”
On leading the seaweed harvesting business, Judge Durcan said: “He is the kind of young man that Ireland wants. He keeps our economy moving in this part of the world.”
Addressing Mr Talty, Judge Durcan said: “You obviously have the capacity to develop that business and I compliment anyone developing a business using the natural resources of the coastline.”
He added: “I will give you a chance. I am going to strike out all matters if €750 is paid to the Court Discretionary Fund [CDF]. That is the end of it, no record but punishment in the pocket.” Mr Talty paid over the sum.
Judge Durcan said that with Mr Talty’s addiction, “an entire business and an entire empire can go like that”.
Mr Talty pleaded guilty to, on dates between January 10th, 2018 and January 28th, 2018, at various locations, stealing €1,035 by using another person’s Visa debit card details.