Gambling addict claimed he needed loan for daughter’s wheelchair
Gareth White given suspended sentence for forging bank statements at credit unions
The judge said he had been caught “somewhat red-handed” regarding the phone theft operation, which she said “was not the work of a criminal genius”. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
A father-of-two who used a forged bank statement to secure a loan from a credit union, claiming he needed to buy a wheelchair for his disabled daughter, has been given a suspended sentence of 2½ years.
Gareth White (29) of Plunkett Green, Finglas West, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to five counts of using a false instrument to secure loans from various credit unions on dates in 2016.
He also pleaded guilty to using a false instrument to buy seven phones on behalf of a non-existent business from Three Ireland on August 13th, 2015.
Passing sentence on Friday, Judge Karen O’Connor said White had a serious gambling addiction which he appeared to be trying to address.
She said he had been caught “somewhat red-handed” regarding the phone theft operation, which she said “was not the work of a criminal genius” although it had been premeditated.
Ms O’Connor said that White had displayed “a degree of desperation” in relation to the loans he sought from credit unions and had aroused suspicion by making multiple calls to see when the loans would be available.
She sentenced him to 2½ years in prison, but suspended it on condition that he engage with the Probation Service for 12 months.
White was also ordered to abstain from gambling, stay away from bookmakers’ and other gambling establishments, and to engage with Gamblers Anonymous.
Garda Noel Whelan told Derek Cooney, prosecuting, that gardaí were alerted to the fraud when the manager of one of the credit unions contacted them after noticing that the address on the AIB Bank statement provided by White did not exist.
The court heard White also used forged bank statements to apply for loans at several credit unions, which he claimed he needed to buy a new wheelchair for his disabled daughter and to purchase a headstone for his mother’s grave.
“The reality is they were needed to pay his gambling debts,” Garda Whelan said.
Garda Whelan said White used false bank statements, a false driving licence and a false company registration certificate to purchase seven Samsung phones and one iPhone from Three Ireland on August 13th, 2015.
A fraud officer in Three Ireland became suspicious and alerted gardaí who travelled to an address in Finglas, where they intercepted White as he arrived to collect the phones. The phones were valued at more than €4,100.
The accused has one previous conviction for sending an indecent phone message.
Tom Neville, defending, said that White was not a well man and was due to undergo major heart surgery in the near future.
Mr Neville said the defendant was currently taking steps to address his gambling addiction. A probation report placed him at moderate risk of reoffending.
The judge noted that White’s mother died when he was just two years old and that he had been fostered at a young age in very sad circumstances.
However, she said he had had a very positive experience with his foster family who were fully supportive of him, and noted that he was now back living with this family and trying to address his gambling addiction.
The court also heard that White spent two years in hospital as a teenager after a tragic motorcycle accident in which his close friend was killed.
The judge said White still had very significant health difficulties.