Gambling addiction leads to prison


An Alberta woman was convicted of stealing over $100,000 from her employer because of a gambling addiction. She was given a conditional sentence of eighteen months to be served in the community. The sentencing judge acknowledged that time in jail was required unless there were exceptional circumstances. He felt that although an addiction to gambling was not an exceptional circumstance, the addiction in addition to her stress and psychological turmoil justified a sentence served outside of prison. The Crown appealed the sentence. The Alberta Court of Appeal decided that the principles of public denunciation and deterrence were not served by a conditional sentence. They listed as factors

- neither the convicted woman's addiction nor her psychological state were exceptional circumstances

- she stole a significant amount of money while in a position of trust, involving a number of accounts over eighteen months of time

- her actions were premeditated, deliberate, and showed sophistication and cunning

- there was no evidence that she intended to pay the money back.

The Court of Appeal ordered that the conditional sentence be replaced with nine months in prison.