‘Best friend’ who Stole £20,000 from Poker Pro Luke Brereton avoids Jail

08 Nov

A so-called ‘best friend’ who stole £20,000 from poker pro Luke Brereton has avoided jail after pleading guilty to fraud, Chester Crown Court hearing that Amer Siddique used the stolen money to bet on football and horse racing.

Former public schoolboy Siddique, 38, who has held several jobs in the gambling industry, stole the money in 2018 after Brereton – a close friend of many years – had handed his bank card over during his birthday celebration lunch, for Siddique to book a train ticket.

“Mr Brereton simply thought that his friend was helping him out by booking a train ticket for him,” Chris Hopkins, prosecuting, told the court. “But while doing so, Mr Siddique obtained Mr Brereton’s bank details which enabled him to open an account with William Hill.”

Over the next three weeks, Siddique drained his friend’s bank account of £19,399, leaving him with just £300. He made more than 100 transactions in a matter of days, later confessing that “gambling got out of hand.”

Brereton, who had returned to the US, only realised something was amiss at the end of the month, contacting the bank before Siddique sent him a WhatsApp message stating:

“Mate, I f***ed up. I will pay it back.”

However, the Crown Court in Chester, England, heard that not a single penny has been repaid in the 4 years since the incident, the pandemic and other reasons delaying the cohort case until this month.

Brereton revealed how difficult things have been made by Siddique’s treachery. He told police:

“At first I questioned my own sanity as I did not know how this could have happened. I’m heartbroken as Amer was such a close friend. I consider myself a loyal and trustworthy person but I feel this was misplaced with him.”

The Florida-resident Englishman, who has career tournament earnings of $1,492,315, explained:

“Being a professional poker player may seem to an outsider to be easy money – but it’s not. I have worked very hard to develop and keep a hold of it and it takes years of building and sacrifice. The money in that bank account was my entire UK net worth.”

Siddique, who has previously worked for betting companies such as Bet365, Superbet, and Sky Betting and Gaming, even spent holidays with Mr Brereton’s family. Despite the initial promise to pay Brereton back, Siddique instead blocked him on social media.

His defence lawyer, Julian Farley, claimed: 

“Siddique received notification from the county court in May of last year and he immediately accepted that he owed £19,399. He has simply been waiting for the county court to make a judgement. His father runs a restaurant and he is going to be working there as much as he can to earn more money to pay Mr Brereton back as soon as possible. He is hoping to pay it in full in the next two to two-and-a-half years but hopes to pay it back as soon as possible.”

Sentencing, the Recorder, Miss Katherine Pierpoint, said:

“The victim of the fraud is your old friend of a number of years…Never did he dream that you would take that advantage to steal from him. You then opened an online gambling account and helped yourself time and time again to money on his account.”

Saddique, educated at the £31,548 a year Denstone College in Uttoxeter, was given a 12-month community order, with requirements that he carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

He was further told to undertake 20 days of rehabilitative activity with the probation service and pay £425 prosecution costs.

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