A businessman from Sheffield jailed for two years for fraud has spoken from behind prison bars of his secret life of gambling and deceit stretching back over 30 years.
In a letter written from his cell, former financial controller David Bradford, aged 58, said a love of money led to a mountain of debt which sparked his pursuit of a ‘quick win’.
His wife and three children knew nothing of his double life - and found out he was going to prison only the night before his sentencing.
Now the family face losing their home, and say their lives have been left in turmoil by the revelations.
In his letter from prison Mr Bradford, of Cleeve Hill Gardens, Waterthorpe, appeals to anyone falling into a similar situation to seek help and support at the first sign of trouble.
“This is my truth,” he says. “I am a fraudster. I am a gambler, maybe a compulsive gambler.”
The former chair of governors at a city infant school, who was paid £71,000 a year in his role for a healthcare supplies company, said he was ‘stung by the power of money’.
“I discovered money talked and those dreams on the horizon could be brought closer.
“The ‘money bug’ was a disease idolised by all.”
He continued: “I became a keen follower. I did not have to look far to find a bank or organisation that would lend me money and it seemed this was the way one bettered oneself.
“I was swallowed down this tunnel to a point where I could only borrow money to finance the repayments of earlier borrowing, a self-perpetuating and self-defeating spiral of debt.
“I never shared the state of my debt ridden life - not with my family, not even with myself.
“Along this journey of deceit I took to gambling - firstly as a way of making a quick ‘win’ to kill this mountain of debt and then, as it failed to live up to those expectations, it became an escape with potential to cure my money ailments.”
Mr Bradford, who was jailed in April, said he gambled ‘like it was an Olympic sport’.
“Now my family do not trust me and all my good points count for nothing. My friends have retreated and are ashamed even to call me an acquaintance. My colleagues, my MP and most who know me have put a big distance between me and them. I would do the same if I was them.
“My sentence extends to a family distraught, a family set to lose everything now. My friends’ views of me are tainted and I am damaged forever.
“If anyone sees a little piece of themselves in my story may I offer them this advice - never lie. Seek help and support at the first sign of trouble.” His son Adam, 21, a young city businessman, has launched a campaign calling for tighter regulations and control of the online gambling industry to protect those suffering from compulsive behaviours.
He said: “We will lose everything we’ve got. Our house is on the line, our life is in turmoil and my father is similarly suffering from psychological problems.
“Life will never be the same for us and my dad’s letter shows for the first time how dangerous compulsive behaviour can be, made ever worse by the availability of money and gambling in the modern world.
“I hope my father’s story and honesty helps others to know this situation is not as rare as it sounds, help and support is available. Do not be afraid to reach out and access it.”