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Christchurch high roller hits the skids

By Chris Hutching

Friday 7th March 2003

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Christchurch Casino chief executive Arthur Pitcher yesterday said that the $10.7 million turnover enjoyed by disgraced gambling addict and lawyer Philip Coburn was achieved over a long period.

Coburn never displayed the behaviour problems usually associated with problem gamblers, Mr Pitcher said.

During a District Court case in Christchurch last week when Coburn (45) pleaded guilty to fraudulently taking over $1 million from 34 clients, the Serious Fraud Office gave evidence about his gambling habits, including his high turnover rate.

Mr Pitcher said that although the $10.7 million churned over by Coburn might seem a lot, it included money that was won and lost rather than a net loss figure and his behaviour was not unusual.

"Some lawyers are rich. He might have had a pile left to him from his mother, you never know."

Mr Pitcher said Internal Affairs' inspectors maintained surveillance at the casino and would have intervened if they felt something was wrong.

All transactions over $10,000 are recorded and the information is made available to Internal Affairs' officers.

Coburn pleaded guilty to fraudulently stealing more than $1 million from individual clients and $768,000 from finance companies to feed his gambling.

He paid some of the money back so that the total loss was $1.4 million.

Coburn was remanded in custody until sentencing next month when he is likely to face a jail term.

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