A MOTOR trader blew a £23,000 windfall at the bookies in the space of a fortnight, a court heard.
Scott Mootoo, aged 40, struck a deal with a customer to buy a Volvo car but checks revealed problems and the customer pulled out.
But the financial arrangements went through by mistake and when the customer realised he tried to retrieve the agreed fee of £23,500 but could not and alerted police.
Inquiries revealed he had been placing bets at the bookies of £200 to £4,000 in the previous few months.
When interviewed by police he admitted the customer told him there was a problem with the Volvo and he had received the cash by mistake.
Mootoo said he had spent the cash and could not repay it. He said he was addicted to gambling and had spent the windfall ‘in a matter of weeks’.
Mootoo, of Lancaster Street, Barnsley twon centre, admitted theft at Sheffield Crown Court.
Neil Aspinall, defending, said when the cash was paid into his account his business was going well but it later ran into difficulties. He had no assets to repay the debt but had just been offered a £30,000-a-year job.
He had been in the motor trade for 20 years and did business abroad as well as in the UK. A customer in Thailand owed him £25,000 to £30,000 and Mr Mootoo flew out to collect the cash but after a few days had a serious motorbike accident.
He spent two-and-a-half weeks in hospital and contracted an infected leg and the hospital bill and flight home had to be met by his extended family. “The gentleman who owed him money has made himself scarce,” said Mr Aspinall.
He flew back to the UK against medical advice and when he arrived at Manchester Airport earlier this month was arrested.
Judge Alan Goldsack told Mootoo: “You came into possession of what most people would regard as a substantial sum of money knowing full well that a mistake had been made. Instead of doing the honest thing and repaying it within days you had spent it largely on gambling.”
The judge deferred sentence until December and ordered Mootoo to carry out 100 hours of unpaid community work and repay the debt monthly when he starts his new job.