Addicted to bingo - Sunday 12th of June 2005

A WOMAN has been jailed after stealing £22,000 to fund her bingo and fruit machine addiction.Julie Evans, who worked in the Department of Work and Pensions, told police her gambling addiction was "out of control".Cardiff Crown Court heard the 45-year-old had stolen £100 a day from a safe and her employers launched an investigation after becoming aware of discrepancies in the cash balances.

 Today her husband Stewart warned others to avoid the same fate.He said: "She's not a bad person. She just got addicted."'I never knew you could be addicted to bingo'A HUSBAND has spoken about how a bingo and fruit machine addiction forced his "honest" wife to turn to crime.As Julie Evans begins a jail sentence for stealing £22,000 from her employer to fund her habit, her partner Stewart Evans has warned others to avoid the same fate."My wife was always very honest and very hard working. She's not a bad person. She just got addicted," he said."I can't stand bingo and slot machines because they are only there to take money, not to give money.

"People ought to ask themselves 'who is going to be the winner, the machine or me?'"Evans, 45, of John Street, Nantyffyllon, near Maesteg, was jailed for eight months at Cardiff Crown Court on Friday after she admitted taking up to £100 a day from her employer.Recorder Nicholas Gareth Jones heard how the mum of one had worked for five years as chef and manager at the restaurant in the Department of Work and Pensions office, Angel Street, Bridgend.Prosecutor Karl Williams said her employers Everest, part of the Compass Catering group, launched an investigation after becoming aware of discrepancies in the cash balances.

"They discovered a total of £22,666.79 was missing," he said. "When she was interviewed in March, she said she had not banked any money since before Christmas."Mr Williams said Evans later admitted she had been taking money from the safe for about 12 months.She went on to tell the police her gambling addiction was "out of control" and that the money had been spent on bingo games and at amusement arcades."I didn't know she had a problem until the police got involved," said Stewart, 55, who has been married to Julie for 22 years."I knew she liked a game of bingo - she played at Castle in Bridgend - but I didn't think it would go this far. I didn't even know you could get addicted to bingo."Mr Evans said his wife felt "ashamed" and believed she had let him and their 21-year-old son Matthew down."She kept a lot from us," he said.

"She wouldn't let me go to court with her. It is only now we are finding out the facts."Mr Evans said he hopes that by telling his story it will encourage others to seek help before it's too late.But he also thinks bingo halls should be prevented from offering cheap meals and alcohol, as he believes this encourages people to gamble.A spokeswoman for the Department of Work and Pensions said she was unable to comment on the case.

icwales.icnetwork.co.uk

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