A 22-YEAR-OLD man fraudulently claimed that he had alloy wheels to sell in order to get money to pay off mounting debts caused by a “severe” gambling addiction, Fermanagh Magistrates Court heard yesterday (Wednesday).

Francis Patrick Hynes, of Hillview Park, Enniskillen, was charged with two counts of fraud by false representation on March 7 and May 25, 2016.

Hynes falsely told both of his victims, Luke Wilson and Keelan McGrath, that he had a set of alloy wheels to sell and took money from each.

However, neither injured party ever received any wheels from the defendant. He later admitted to police that he never had the wheels in the first place and needed the money because he had a “severe” gambling problem.

Hynes entered guilty pleas during an earlier appearance before Fermanagh Magistrates Court and a pre-sentence report was prepared in the case.

At his sentencing yesterday, the court heard that, on March 7, police received a report from one of the injured parties that he had placed a wanted ad online for a set of alloy wheels.

He told officers that the defendant had contacted him and claimed that he had a set for sale for £430.

The victim purchased the wheels, but never received the items. He made repeated attempts to contact Hynes, but was unable to do so.

The injured party then reported the matter to the police, who spoke to the defendant.

Hynes admitted selling the wheels, but also made a further admission that he never had the wheels in the first place.

The defendant alleged that he had a “severe” gambling problem, had not been in a good mental state and didn’t know where to go for help.

He claimed that he had used the money for online gambling to get enough back to pay off his mounting debts, but lost this.

Hynes, who said he was “remorseful” for his actions, subsequently paid the money back to both of his victims.

Defending counsel, Steffan Rafferty, instructed by McHugh Lynam Solicitors, told the court that his client’s offending in both cases had been “entirely opportunistic”.

The barrister said that his actions had been a result of the “unfortunate circumstances” he had found himself in.

“A more contrite man you’ll never see,” Mr Rafferty added.

In mitigation, the barrister said that Hynes had been interviewed by police in connection with both matters and the money had been paid back “in full”.

Deputy district judge, Ted Magill, observed that the defendant had pleaded guilty to the offences “from the outset” and was entitled to full credit.

The judge said that guilty pleas always attracted credit and the fact that Hynes had also paid the money back made “all the difference” in the case.

Imposing a two-year conditional discharge on the defendant, the judge said this was “unusual, but fully warranted” in the circumstances.