Barman spent $66,000 of pub's money chasing $20 he'd lost
A TOOWOOMBA barman who lost $20 on Keno and then spent $66,000 of the hotel's money trying to get his $20 back has walked out of court without a conviction.
Benjamin Naythan Shipp was working the 2pm to 6.30pm shift at the Portadown Hotel on January 6 but he had few customers.
An accredited gaming attendant, the 27-year-old had access to the hotel's gaming so after he lost his last $20 on Keno he had kept playing in an attempt to recoup his loss, Toowoomba Murri Court heard.
As is general practice, Keno operators upon seeing large amounts of money being invested check with the hotel that all is in order.
Shipp's name would have been registered with Keno and so the operators were left to believe the bets were okay.
Over the ensuing five hours, Shipp placed 127 bets at a total cost of $66,279, the court heard.
During the five-hour gambling spree he had won back a total $39,160 until what became his last bet at 6.57pm.
In that single bet he had put $9000 on Keno's heads and tails game which he won but due to the size of the win Keno had declined to pay in cash.
When a Keno player wins a large sum of money, that player's contact details are taken and Keno sends them a cheque in the mail.
However, when the win wasn't paid, Shipp phoned the Keno line and, during discussions with a Keno operator, his offending came to light, the court heard.
He came clean with his employer and was sacked but the hotel was left with the $27,000 debt to Keno.
When spoken to by police, Shipp had said he was just trying to get back his $20.
He pleaded guilty to a charge of stealing as a servant which courts take very seriously as the offence is a breach of trust.
His solicitor Joe Millican told the court his client had not worked since the incident but had put himself through counselling sessions for gambling and had attended all hotels in Toowoomba to have himself banned so he wouldn't be tempted to gamble.
"He panicked on the night and kept doubling down to recoup his losses," Mr Millican said.
Magistrate Kay Ryan noted Shipp had no previous criminal history but said sentencing him was a difficult task and ordinarily people who offended in such a fashion could go to jail but his could be distinguished from other previous like cases.
Ms Ryan ordered the conviction not be recorded, placed Shipp on two years probation and ordered he pay restitution of $27,119 which was immediately referred to SPER (State Penalties Enforcement Registry).