How a £1 bet sparked a €10m betting spree and prison for this postmaster
The shocking downfall of a Wexford postmaster who ended up in jail after stealing €1.75m from An Post during a €10m betting spree, began with a modest £1 bet on a World Cup soccer match.
Tony O'Reilly ended up losing his freedom, his job and his marriage because of his uncontrollable gambling addiction that led him to increasingly devious thefts from the national postal service.
Those thefts included stealing his betting money from pristine bundles of post office cash with a pair of precision pliers so they would not be missed in Gorey post office where he had risen to branch manager.
Today his shocking and disturbing tale is published in LIFE magazine together with an exclusive extract from the book he has co-written with Sunday Independent columnist Declan Lynch titled Tony 10: The astonishing story of the postman who gambled €10,000,000... and lost it all.
Tony 10 was Tony O'Reilly's online-gambling name. While his first brush with gambling was a £1 wager in a bookies shop on Dutch striker Patrick Kluivert to score the first goal in a game against Argentina.
His major problem began when a well-meaning brother-in-law gave him a €50 voucher which introduced him to online betting.
Within months he was betting €40,000 on the outcome of a Norwegian women's soccer match and stealing from An Post, first from coin bags and then notes, as his addiction spiralled and he desperately tried to make up his losses.
All told more than €10m in transactions went through the Tony 10 account and An Post were left with a €1.75m loss.
When his theft and deception was uncovered he went on the run. His family and friends feared he had taken his own life. Instead he had fled to Northern Ireland and was still placing bets.
He was eventually arrested and sentenced to four years in prison for stealing €1.75m.
He underwent counselling and has now trained as a counsellor himself. He still feels shame, he says, and is continuing to pay back his debts.
"When I was in recovery in Cuan Mhuire," he says, "Sister Susan told me to try to get to a place of peaceful regret. I know what she means and I do try, and sometimes I think I'm nearly there. But I'm ashamed of what I've done, and that's hard," he says in today's edition of LIFE magazine.
Yesterday, the GAA's annual congress held at Croke Park voted overwhelmingly to ban all sponsorship of the association from gambling companies.
Speaking before the vote, Mick Rock of Connacht GAA claimed that sport in general is "besieged by gambling" and that passing the motion "will enhance the moral standing of the GAA in Irish life and protect the integrity of our games".