AN aspiring young estate agent, who was the face of a recruitment drive, gambled away more than £13,000 on roulette machines after stealing cash from his bosses.
Ben Thomas Cryer, 22, blew £2,500 in one weekend on his gambling addiction.
He stole the cash from Petty's Estate Agents where he worked as a lettings negotiator.
Cryer, who joined the firm as an apprentice from school five years ago, didn't process payments and took sums between £50 and £300, Burnley Crown Court heard.
The court heard the firm had 'high hopes' for Cryer, a former Marsden Heights student.
The firm, which has offices in Burnley and Pendle, enrolled him on a Level 2 NVQ for Estate Agency after he passed his NVQ Level 2 in Business and Administration.
The defendant, who wiped away tears in the dock, had admitted theft between February and August last year and had been committed for sentence by Pennine magistrates.
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Cryer, of Deepdale Green, Barrowford, received six months in prison, suspended for 18 months, with 18 months' supervision and 160 hours unpaid work. He was ordered to repay all the money to the victims at £250 a month. The defendant had no previous convictions and is now attending Gamblers Anonymous.
Charles Brown, prosecuting, said Cryer presented himself at the police station and during disciplinary proceedings at work admitted stealing £13,135.
He was interviewed by police and said he had not processed payments that had been received by the business.
Cryer said he had usually taken money once a week and gambled it away. None of it went into his bank. The defendant told officers he had taken amounts from £50 up to £300.
The prosecutor said: "He gave the explanation 'This isn't me. It's the addiction taking over' and said he had surrendered at the police station because he wanted to start afresh and realised he would have to go backwards to go forwards."
Richard Taylor, for Cryer, said: "The sad thing about gambling addiction is one always thinks one is going to win."
Mr Taylor said the defendant took small amounts and then in desperation, trying to repay it, took larger amounts. He 'finally came to his senses' last August 26, when he realised he couldn't go on as he had. His employers did not know what was happening.
The solicitor said: "They knew he had a gambling addiction. They were supportive of him. He had gone to them from school for work experience and they had been impressed with him. He had been there all his working life.
"It's with a sense of significant guilt that he has let not only his employers down, but his family and himself. That is not how he was brought up."
The solicitor added: "He is an otherwise decent young man, who has never been in trouble before and now has a signifiant blot on his record that he will never be able to rid himself of."
Mr Taylor said the defendant, who was dismissed from Petty's, now had another job and was progressing well in the company.
Sentencing, Judge Simon Newell told Cryer: "It's not just the loss of that money, but you worked at Petty for five years. They obviously had high hopes for you and you clearly seemed to work well there. You badly let them down."
The judge added Cryer was now seeking to address his gambling problem for the second time.
Petty's declined to comment yesterday.