A GAMBLING addict whose debts to loan sharks saw his own father gunned down outside an Edinburgh casino has been jailed for more than five years for a £1million fraud.
Tony Demarco, 64, was blasted in the back of the head as he stood on the steps of the Gala Maybury Casino in Edinburgh on June 3, 2008.
Four men have been jailed over the attempted hit but the motive behind it remained a mystery until Tony’s son, Anthony Demarco, admitted defrauding two finance companies for £1m.
Before the shooting Demarco Jnr, 38, had been a freelance finance broker with a massive gambling problem.
After a string of losses to online poker with Ladbrokes he turned to loan sharks to pay-off the debts but failed to keep-up with their demands for payments.
But after his dad – a sandwich bar owner – was targeted in a murder plot, he ripped-off two companies who trusted his reputation, to the tune of £1m in a bid to pay them off.
From July 25, 2008 he abused his contacts in the financial industry to make a total of 23 fake loans on non-existent assets.
The scam, which he admitted in court with a guilty plea last month, continued for more than a year, during which time he took the financial firms for the seven digit figure.
Lombard Finance lost £285,000 while Hitachi lost £715,000 through the dodgy deals.
Today at the High Court in Edinburgh Judge Lady Smith jailed Demarco for five years and four months after he had earlier admitted fraud.
His father Tony was in court to watch the sentencing, but refuse dto comment afterwards.
The case had been remitted to the high court after a sheriff decided he did not have enough power to sentence Demarco.
Sentencing, Lady Smith told him: “In short you pursued a sustained, detailed fraud on Lombard and Hitachi and between them they lost initially £1m as a result.
“Yes, there was a threat, to a life in your case. And yes, the court is in a position to accept that that was a genuine threat.
“What happened to you father was terrible but it need not have happened.
“The threat need not have happened had you stopped gambling. Equally you could have taken the decision when the threats were made to go to the police to seek their assistance.
“But you didn’t do that.”
Demarco’s solicitor, John Scott, had expressed how his client saw no way out of the situation following the shooting of his father.
Mr Scott said: “He thought the threats that were made to him were not serious threats but simply attempts at persuasion.
“When his father was shot in the head he realised that was not the case and that these were more serious threats.
“The threat was as real as it possibly could be.
“In this situation we have the very dramatic shooting of his father as a final attempt to show Mr Demarco the position he was in and only a few weeks later this started.
“Antony Demarco realises that he made very bad choices. He put his father in the position where he was shot in the head and has now put his family in the position where matters for them are far from certain.”
Mr Scott said that the family had been unable to pay the mortgage on their house in Toscana Court, Danderhall, Midlothian, since his arrest and his partner and two young children could be forced to find another home.
Lady Smith said she had reduced an eight year sentence to 64 months to take account of Demarco’s early plea.
In February a gang of four was jailed for a total of 43 years for the assassination plot while a fifth man involved still remains unidentified.
Imran Sakur, who hatched the plot, and Jamie Robertson, who pulled the trigger, were both jailed for 11 years.
Craig Kelbie was sentenced to 11 years and getaway driver Francis McGlone was given a 10-year term.
All four men were found guilty of conspiracy to murder and attempted murder.
The assassination plot began in April 2008 when high-rolling gambler Sakur, 35, approached Kelbie about recruiting others to make the hit.
Kelbie, 35, then approached Robertson, 25, and McGlone, 39, to carry out the murder in return for payment.
Labourer McGlone and bricklayer Robertson, both from Paisley, Sakur, from Broughty Ferry, Dundee, and unemployed panel beater Kelbie, from Dundee, all denied the charges against them.
They were found guilty of the attempted hit “whilst acting along with another”.