A FINANCE controller dad hid his £500,000 gambling debt from his family – who only found out when he was jailed.
David Bradford, 64, stole £50,000 from his employers, racked up countless loans and even remortgaged his home to fund his addiction.
Son Adam with mum Denise and dad David[/caption]
The finance controller’s family only found out about his addiction when he was jailed for fraud[/caption]
His double life was only exposed when a solicitor phoned his wife Denise and three sons Alex, Ryan and Adam to say he had been sentenced to prison.
David, who lost his £70,000-a-year job, served eight months before his release from HMP Altcourse in Liverpool in November.
Adam, 28, said: “While he was in prison, I had to unravel his debts and make a plan to keep the house which we are still paying off.
“Two days after he was jailed we got a quick 30 second phone call – all he was allowed – after he’d been on the front of the local paper. He was really apologetic, but a shadow of himself.
“I will never forget my mum didn’t want to speak to him and handed the phone to me.
“All I said was, ‘What’s the password to your email?’ and ‘Where are all the bills kept and what happens next?’ because I had to sort out the huge mess he’d left us with.”
He said Denise visited her husband in jail but she was “very angry with him” because “the future she thought she was going to have was suddenly destroyed”.
Adam as a toddler with his dad David[/caption]
The duo are hoping to see a blanket ban on adverts for gambling sites[/caption]
“She felt betrayed, but we have learned it’s not betrayal – he just wanted to do what was best for his family, but when his debts mounted he tried to recover the money for us and lost more,” Adam said.
“Now our mental health and struggles have been the collateral damage.”
Ryan added: “Each day after Dad was jailed was spent wondering how we would cover the mortgage and hold off debt collectors.
“Each day was spent worrying about living on the streets due to the threat of homelessness.
“Each day was a horrendous new experience that led to personal depression of my own, followed by countless sleepless nights, arguments and so much stress.”
Ryan said David “struggled to find work” when he came out of jail and even took on freelance delivery work driving 100 hours a week “to make ends meet”.
“He has tried to make amends with those he let down,” he added.
David and Adam, 28, decided they wanted to help stop other addicts’ lives from being shattered as his had.
Together they developed an app called BetProtect which helps people gamble sensibly.
It aims to reach people when they are most at risk, urging them to “take a break” and get help.
The duo have vowed to try to protect the 430,000 people estimated by the Gambling Commission to be addicts, with a further two million felt to be “at risk”.
HOW TO GET HELP
Gambling addiction can be extremely serious.
If you or someone close to you is affected by gambling addiction, there are a number of places you can seek help:
- National Problem Gambling Clinic: NHS specialist clinic for problem gamblers (in England & Wales only, for those aged 16+).
- GamCare: The UK’s main support and counselling organisation, who also run the National Gambling Helpline (0808 8020 133).
- Gamblers Anonymous: A charity which uses the same 12-step approach as Alcoholics Anonymous.
- GamAnon: A support group for family and friends, run by the people behind Gamblers Anonymous.
- Samaritans: A 24-hour service for those feeling suicidal (116 123).
- Childline: A free helpline for those up to the age of 18 (0800 1111).
There are several different treatments available for gambling:
- Inpatient programmes: Round-the-clock for those with a particularly serious gambling addiction.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: A type of talking therapy, with between six and 15 sessions, which can be prescribed on the NHS.
- Hypnotherapy: Through the power of suggestion, therapists hope to change problematic patterns in their client’s mind.
There are also a number of ways you can treat gambling at home:
- Block your access to gambling: Block gambling websites and stay away from casinos, betting shops and even pubs with slot machines.
- Give someone else control of your money: This removes the temptation to loss chase, or try to gamble your way out of debt.
- Stay busy: As with any addiction, you will experience a withdrawal period. Keep yourself busier than usual for the first week or so.
- Talk: Speak to a therapist/medical professional, and open up to at least one trusted friend/family member.
They also set up a service called the Safer Online Gambling Group.
The Bradfords’ work has recently led to a decrease in the maximum stake for fixed odds betting terminals from £100 to £2 and an increase in NHS provision for gambling addicts.
Marketing consultant Adam, of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, said: “This is a new lease of life for Dad and a pathway to redemption.
“Even the last seven years since Dad came out of jail has been very difficult for our family, but the terrible impact on us has been the inspiration for our work with the industry to provide an extra layer of support for those at risk.
“Dad says if it had been around for him, it could well have saved him.
“He actually never thought he had a problem with his gambling and just thought he was a bit useless with money.
“He even had a bet the day of his court case. He only realised he had a problem when the judge told him.”
Adam and David want more support for addicts and their families[/caption]
Adam with his brothers Alex and Ryan on holiday[/caption]
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David thinks that if the app had existed when he was at his lowest point, he might not have ended up in prison.
He said: “As I never believed I had a gambling problem I never sought help in any form.
“On reflection, I needed intervention from a trusted source.”