Gambling addiction spins out of control

WHEN his gambling addiction spiralled out of control 71- year-old George Edwin Gittens began stealing to keep his head above water.

It was a spectacular fall from grace for Gittens who once ran a successful construction business in Brisbane.

But after a bad business deal "took him to the cleaners'' Git tens was forced to survive on an age pension ? not enough to cover his gambling expenses.

Gittens, who now resides in Gladstone, yesterday pleaded guilty to numerous charges of stealing and fraud in Rock- hampton Magistrates Court.

The charges stretch over an 11-month period in which Git- ten's stole from two Brisbane properties he was acting as caretaker for in 2004/2005.

He then pawned the goods off for gambling money, or in some instances, for food and essentials.

Police Prosecutor Kay Schick told the court he stole a wide range of goods including power tools, jewellery and stereo equipment and would pawn them off in the hope of buying them back.

But as he struggled to keep up with his gambling addiction, Gittens was unable to buy back the goods and resorted to pawn ing off more and more property from his landlords.

Defence solicitor Paul Wonocott said when Gittens retired from building he put his energy into creating something to as sist boats docking at port.

But he said after a deal with backers to market the invention went sour Gittens was left broke, forcing him to rely on government pension.

Magistrate Annette Hennessy placed Gittens on a good beha- vour bond and ordered he pay more than $3500 in restitution, but warned him he needed to change his ways.

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