A Towy Valley gambling addict who once scooped £50,000 on a football bet has admitted nine charges of fraud after filling his car’s petrol tank at garages around the county only to then claim he had left his wallet at home.
Richard James Williams, of Flat 4 of Saville House in Towy Terrace, Ffairfach, told staff at each of the outlets that he would return the following day to pay, but failed to make good on his debt.
Llanelli magistrates were told how the 28-year-old pulled the same stunt at Murco Garage, Llanelli, on December 19, 2013; High Noon Petrol Station, Carmarthen, on February 27, 2014; Nantycaws Filling Station on April 25; Gorslas Service Station on April 30; Texaco Garage, Llanelli, on May 6; Morrisons Petrol Station, Carmarthen, on May 7; Forge Filling Station, Carmarthen, on May 9; and Morrisons Petrol Station, Llanelli, on July 17.
Williams also claimed to have forgotten his wallet after having a tyre replaced at the Carmarthen branch of Kwikfit on June 5.
In total, Williams, who claims to have blown around £100,000 gambling at bookmakers’ shops and online betting sites, defrauded the businesses of £271.62.
Vaughan Pritchard Jones, prosecuting told the court: “This gentleman basically drove into the petrol stations, filled up and on each occasion he made up a story and told the proprietor he had forgotten his wallet and would be back to pay.
“This went on for quite some time. It is not a large amount of money, but it is not a small amount either.”
The court was told Williams “made up various excuses” at each outlet as to how he had come to forget his wallet.
Probation officer Tim Jenkins said Williams had previously run a successful mobile fish-and-chip shop, but gave up the business.
“He had quite a large inheritance,” said Mr Jenkins.
“He developed a gambling addiction and when he was unemployed this became particularly acute.
“At one point he won between £40,000 and £50,000 on a single football accumulator.
“However, all of his savings and whatever benefits he was getting were going on gambling.
“He believes he spent between £90,000 and £100,000 over nine or ten years either online or at turf accountants.”
Mr Jenkins said Williams eventually recognised he had a problem and took steps to address his lifestyle.
“What has saved him from himself is that he has sought help from an addiction support group,” said Mr Jenkins.
Williams has now got his life back on track, the court was told, and works as an assistant driver at Castell Howell in Cross Hands.
“He has stopped gambling, he is working and is living with his partner,” said Mr Jenkins.
“He appreciates that what he did was quite systematic.”
Richard Morgan, defending, said: “The background to these offences stem from a serious gambling addiction which grew worse during a period of unemployment.”
Williams admitted all nine fraud offences and a further offence of failing to attend bail.
Magistrates sentenced Williams to a 12-month community order with a requirement to carry out 220 hours of unpaid work.
Williams was also order to repay all the amounts due to the various filling stations as well as £100 court costs and a £60 legal surcharge.
Magistrates rejected a prosecution request that Williams be banned from driving and be made to forfeit his car.