Compulsive gambler Declan McGarry sorry for stealing victims' money to place bets
Compulsive gambler Declan McGarry sorry for stealing victims' money to place bets Getty

A former gambling addict who stole thousands to spend on bets has apologised to his victims from inside a Northern Ireland prison cell.

Trained accountant Declan McGarry, 32, called his actions "horrible" and said they caused him "mental torture" today.

He is in prison for stealing thousands of pounds from clients for bets during his early twenties, including one for £216,000 on a single horse in a race.

Being hooked on the thrill of gambling meant he was trapped a cycle that meant "lies became a way of life", he said.

"It's just mind-boggling looking back at it, the dirty tricks that you exposed yourself to," he told the BBC from inside Magilligan prison. "Out of addiction, I'm a decent human being, but in addiction I would have done anything for money. I apologise wholeheartedly - it was a horrible thing to do."

Describing the motivation he had for gambling vast sums, he said: "Two minutes after the race, the buzz is gone. There's as much of a buzz about the horse running and getting beaten as there is in winning, because that's what you live for - you live for the adrenaline.

"Two days after, it's a complete nightmare because you realise you've spent somebody else's money."

Having racked up huge losses, McGarry was unable to repay clients the stolen money and today is bankrupt. Despite all that he has gone through and inflicted upon his victims, McGarry admitted he cannot say he has kicked the urge for good.

"At this point in time, the gambling is kicked - I got that big of a sickener of it," he said. "There may well be another bet in me, but there's no way there's another recovery, and that scares me - for me to do that bet, is for me to die."