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Defendant changes plea to guilty after smashing up FOBTs in betting shop

FOBTs: one estimate suggests that 3,700 out of 5,500 shops will close over five years with a £2 maximum stake
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Football hooligan Aaron Cawley admitted on Tuesday to smashing up £20,000 worth of fixed odds betting terminals and television screens at Ladbrokes in Cheltenham on December 10, 2016.

Prosecutor Charley Pattison told Judge Ian Lawrie QC at Gloucester crown court that, as well as the damage itself, Ladbrokes lost three days of trading at the branch – making the total loss approximately £50,000.

The judge remarked: “Unless this defendant has won the lottery, I don't think he will be paying compensation.”

Pattison said the prosecution accepted Cawley and co-defendant John Dymock, likewise from Cheltenham, “were not in a position to pay compensation”.

Dymock had already pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to taking part in the damage spree at the branch.

Alison Gurden, representing both men, had originally told the court she would be putting forward a defence of 'automatism' – suggesting both had entered a trance-like state during the offending.

That particular defence was withdrawn at the last hearing in March this year, but Cawley had continued his denial and intended to proceed to trial – until changing his plea to guilty on Tuesday.

Gurden said Cawley was “changing his plea because his mental health has deteriorated quite significantly due to the stress of the pending trial”.

'Not much of a defence'

Judge Lawrie QC said: “That, and that he didn't have much of a defence! Arguable, but not much of a defence.”

Asking for a pre-sentence report for Cawley, Gurden said both men “have lengthy previous convictions, almost all of which are related to gambling".

The judge said: “I don't need a psychologist to tell me these men have gambling addictions.”

The judge adjourned the case until 2pm on Wednesday for sentence and warned Cawley: “This is a significant piece of criminal damage. You are clearly at risk of custody.”

Cawley achieved notoriety in October 2012 when he went on to the pitch at Hillsborough and attacked Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland during a match with Leeds United.

Leeds fan Cawley was 21 at the time of the incursion, for which he pleaded guilty at Sheffield Magistrates' Court to assault and entering the field of play.

He was given a 16-week jail sentence and six-year football banning order, and Leeds said they intended to ban him from their Elland Road stadium for life.


If you were interested in this you can follow the progress of the case chronologically in these stories below

Pair claim 'automatism' to blame for wrecking betting shop

Defence commissions automatism reports in betting shop rage case

Trial of two men who blame betting shop damage on 'automatism' delayed

Rage against machines: pair accused of FOBT damage drop automatism defence


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I don't need a psychologist to tell me these men have gambling addictions
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