Talented footballer killed himself after racking up £10k in online gambling debts

September 27, 2012 | by | 0 Comments

A young footballer leapt 150ft to his death after racking up online gambling debts of at least £10,000, an inquest heard.

Tragic Adam Billing, 27, spent thousands of pounds on betting websites but kept his addiction hidden from family and friends.

He turned to online gambling after a knee injury threatened his football career with his local team, an inquest heard.

Adam Billing on a night out. The talented footballer killed himself after running up debt on online gambling sites

Adam Billing on a night out. The talented footballer killed himself after running up debt on online gambling sites

But his habit spiralled out of control and he later siphoned money from his business to his personal bank account.

Adam, from Liskeard, Cornwall, sent a text to his mother Karen on April 11 saying: “I’m so sorry mum, I have let you all down again.”

He then killed himself, the inquest in Truro, Cornwall, heard.

Karen told the inquest her son was “vulnerable to the lure of gambling” after personal circumstances had left him at a low ebb.

She said in a statement: “It was clear he had run up considerable debts in the last months of his life.

“I had no idea he had become effectively addicted to gambling.

”Unfortunately, within a few weeks, Adam became caught in a vicious circle and could not see a way out.

The sportsman was unable to cope after injury ruined his football career

The sportsman was unable to cope after injury ruined his football career

”Vast amounts of money can be lost so easily, just by clicking a button.

”Those who gamble get embroiled, not acknowledging they are losing real money.”

Adam was a former youth player for Plymouth Argyle and also played centre back for AFC St Austell.

He turned to online gambling after his knee injury and had also been the victim of a serious assault in which his ear was bitten off, the inquest heard.

Adam had become addicted to betvictor.com – one of Britain’s leading independent bookmakers, the inquest heard.

The website specializes in online sports betting, casino, poker and games. The company is named after its chairman, Victor Chandler.

His girlfriend, Jenny Dodds, told the hearing that he was unwell in the days before his death and seemed pale and unable to sleep.

On April 11 she received text messages saying, “I love you so much”, “going to sleep now” and then “night” – despite it being the middle of the morning.

A few hours later he sent another text saying he believed he was a burden to his family and that he had done “something stupid”.

Shortly after 1pm, the driver of a passing train saw him jumping to his death, in Liskeard, Cornwall.

The inquest heard Adam ran a building business with his friend Leon Caers, who after he died discovered payments totalling £10,000 had been transferred from the company account to his friend’s personal account.

He said: “He had been drawn into a cycle of gambling that became more and more costly to him and that he felt he couldn’t approach me or anyone else for help about.”

After a youth career at Plymouth Argyle from 1996 to 2001, Mr Billing played for Liskeard AFC and Dobwells FC where he was described as the “best header of the ball in the East Cornwall league”.

Ian Lindsay, his manager at Dobwells, said: “He was an all-round sportsman. We went three and a half years without losing a match.”

Messages posted on social networking sites described Adam as “a legend”.

Jamie Gerry wrote: “Words can’t describe how much we miss (you) already mate. Words seem so inconsequential.”

And Ian Spurling, a referee, wrote on Cornwall Football Forum: “He was always one of the first to shake my hand after the game.”

The inquest recorded a verdict that Adam took his own life.

Victor Chandler has been described as “arguably the most famous bookmaker in the world”.

He is often credited as the first bookmaker to recognise the importance of online gambling, particularly online casinos and poker.

In the 2009 Sunday Times rich list Chandler was ranked 362nd with a fortune estimated at £150 million.

For confidential support on suicide matters call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details.

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