William Hill gambling addict smashed up betting shops 'in protest'
A gambling addict smashed up screens and gaming machines in William Hill betting shops in Liverpool because he had lost a lot of money, a court heard.
Eric Baptista, 29, received a 12-month suspended jail term after admitting seven counts of criminal damage.
The judge at Liverpool Crown Court ordered Baptista, from Liverpool, not to go within 32ft (10m) of any William Hill betting shop for five years.
He was also ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid community work.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said Baptista, of Seacole Close, had smashed up TV screens and gaming machines with a hammer at William Hill shops in south Liverpool during three weeks in May.
'No safety net'
He also smeared the screens in the shops with anti-vandal paint and filmed some of the attacks on a mobile phone.
Baptista told police he had committed the offences because he was a gambling addict and had lost so much money to the William Hill betting shop chain and was angry that staff were not trained to deal with problem gamblers.
The CPS said he told staff in the betting shops: "This is a protest. I am sorry; there is no safety net for customers."
Crown advocate Mike Stephenson, who prosecuted the case, said: "He [Baptista] stated that he had since been to counselling for his addiction, and as a result he has not been to a betting shop.
"He also said that he'd started a forum against the gambling industry, and campaigns to try to highlight the problems that gamblers face."