Post office worker traced after placing €40,000 bet
Family admits son's gambling is 'out of control'
Published 04/07/2011 | 05:00
THE family of a senior post office manager who went missing as a suspected €1.76m fraud was uncovered at his branch admitted yesterday that their son has a gambling addiction.
Tony O'Reilly (36) was tracked down in Belfast after he placed a winning €40,000 bet on an odds-on shot to win €27,000. He placed the bet with a bookie in the city on Saturday.
In a statement issued exclusively to the Irish Independent last night, Mr O'Reilly's family said his gambling in recent months had been secretive and uncharacteristic and had spiralled out of control.
He is now undergoing medical treatment in the south east.
Gardai told the PSNI to be on the lookout for Mr O'Reilly after he was reported missing by his family when he left his home in Carlow on Wednesday morning but failed to turn up for work at the post office in Gorey, Co Wexford.
His family were concerned he might have suffered a breakdown after an internal audit by An Post had discovered the alleged financial irregularities at the Gorey branch.
Mr O'Reilly was captured on CCTV cameras in Belfast and his missing Volkswagen car was located near the home of a friend in the city. PSNI officers spoke to Mr O'Reilly to confirm his identity and medical attention was then sought for him.
Extensive investigations by gardai and An Post officials are to be carried out before detectives seek to hold a detailed interview with Mr O'Reilly.
Other staff members in the post office are expected to be interviewed shortly as part of the investigation.
Local gardai have called in the assistance of detectives from the garda national bureau of fraud investigation to help them determine how the suspected financial discrepancies occurred and over how long a period the money had gone missing.
In their statement issued by Mr O'Reilly's father, Tony Snr, the family said they were relieved their son had been found.
"Tony's mental health and well-being have always been the most important thing to us.
"We are very grateful to all of the people who helped us to find Tony and to the gardai and the PSNI. We also thank his friends in Carlow who have sent messages of support to us.
"Many people in Ireland are reluctant to talk about mental health concerns but we believe Tony is suffering from a gambling addiction.
"We are seeking help for him to recover from this illness, which is plaguing families across the country," his family added.
"Tony is a family man, first and foremost, and his gambling in recent months was secretive, uncharacteristic and spiralled out of control.
"We firmly believe our son would not be in the predicament he is today were it not for the temptations of phone and online betting.
"This does not, in any way, excuse him from personal responsibility but it is only right to mention this matter as it is a serious issue, which should be highlighted to prevent other families experiencing this trauma and torment.
"We are very grateful to the people of Carlow town, who have rallied behind our family. We are finding it difficult to talk about private family matters but we decided to issue one detailed statement to the Irish Independent so that all sides of the story are heard."
Gardai are expected to seek to interview bookies, with whom Mr O'Reilly had placed substantial bets, to examine his gambling patterns.
Mr O'Reilly, the father of a 10-month-old girl, left his home at 6.30am on Wednesday. His wife, Lorraine, became concerned when she received a text message from his work mobile phone, indicating that he had been involved in a car crash near Tullow on his way to work.
It was later confirmed that he had travelled north.
Meanwhile, garda inquiries into the alleged irregularities were stepped up on Friday after An Post issued a second and more detailed complaint to local officers in Gorey.