Gambler steals to feed her habit
By REN LANZONrlanzon@gladstoneobserver.com.au
HER desperate need for money to feed her gambling habit landed Brenda (not her real name) in jail.
Brenda admits that while she was in the grip of gambling, even her hatred of stealing was set aside because of the money she needed to feed her 'disease'.
'At the time nothing matters and you cannot stop until all the money is gone,' she said.
Brenda had worked for the same company for 22 years and had built up a lot of trust and respect in that time.
'I used to gamble a little on poker machines, but never had any difficulty stopping when I had spent what I had set aside for that, and I'd go home.
'But one day I had a big win and I thought I could keep it going and beat the machines and it just spiralled from there.'
As the gambling grip tightened, Brenda became game enough to steal from the company. She admits she defrauded the company of 'a considerable amount of money'.
In the end her conscience caught up with her.
'I couldn't sleep and I couldn't eat so I eventually told them what I was doing,' she said.
Brenda was eventually charged on one count of stealing as a servant and two for fraud and was slapped with a three-year jail term which was suspended after six months.
She said, like all gamblers, she became a good liar. No-one in the family knew of her gambling addiction, not even her husband, and she was able to cover up her losses.
'I betrayed everyone ? I didn't only lose money but also my reputation and the trust people had in me,' she said.
She said her children suffered at school because of what she had become.
Before her conviction Brenda found Gamblers Anonymous whose members helped her through her ordeal, includ- ing while she was in prison.
'They were a great inspiration to me because I knew they had been through what I had been through,' she said.
'It is a great relief to find out that you are not alone, that people can understand what you're doing and why you're doing it.'
Brenda left prison eight months ago and she has been "clean'' for one year and five months. 'I am very proud of that,' she said.