Saturday, October 15, 2011 : And having one drink too many is no excuse….
 
A jail sentence handed out to a UK poker player who made serious threats against the staff of an unidentified internet poker operation may serve as a cautionary tale for others; no matter what the provocation, keep your cool.
 
The Darlington & Stockton News reports that Michael Gallagher (35), a currently jobless poker player, was jailed for three months by the Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Peter Fox, after evidence was led that he threatened to massacre staff at an internet gambling site after losing thousands of pounds. Judge Fox said that the case was the worst imaginable of its kind.
 
In an email to the operator, Gallagher demanded $50,000 (GBP 33,000) to cover his losses or warned he would travel to the company’s headquarters and “blow the f***ing brains out of every single person who crosses my path”.
 
The chilling threats were made after the player failed to obtain satisfaction regarding his accusations that there were irregularities in the way his hands had been drawn.
 
Gallagher later tried to defend his actions by saying that he had had too much to drink at the time.
 
Judge Fox expressed surprise that a blackmail charge against Gallagher was dropped in favour of a lesser offence under the Malicious Communications Act 1988.
 
He said the case had all the hallmarks of extortion – which has a top sentence of 14 years, compared to a six-month maximum for sending an electronic communication conveying a threat.
 
Gallagher admitted the lesser charge when he was about to go on trial for blackmail last month, and was jailed for three months.
 
The court heard he lost nearly $30,000 – between GBP15,000 and GBP20,000 – after joining the online site last June, and before making the drunken threats in the early hours of May 25.
 
Gallagher wrote in his email: “I hope you take me seriously because I swear to God I’m going to do it. I will have my vengeance. I have planned this for six months. It’s what makes me sleep a night.
 
“Drifting off to sleep, thinking about what I am going to do, knowing full well that the butchering I do will get you exposed for what you are… I will gladly take a life sentence for that.
 
“Believe me, it will be my finest hour… $50,000 in my account, or believe me, you will all be dead.”
 
Next day, Gallagher sent another email apologising, insisting he did not mean it and explaining he had been drunk.
 
Rachel Dyson, mitigating, said Gallagher was not a crazed lunatic and never intended to carry out the threat, but accepted the email was likely to have caused distress. A day later, he was arrested at his home by armed police, but a search showed he did not have any guns.
 
Judge Fox told Gallagher: “It is no excuse, at all, that you were affected by drink.”