I was told I had won £286k and spent thousands to celebrate – only to be told it was a MISTAKE… now I have to pay THEM

I was told I had won £286k and spent thousands to celebrate – only to be told it was a MISTAKE… now I have to pay THEM

A PUNTER who believed he'd won £285,000 only to have to hand the cash back as it was a "mistake" is now facing an £85,000 court bill.

James Longley, 45, splurged £3,000 celebrating after his £26,000 horse racing flutter came in.

But just two days later, Paddy Power took his £285,000 winnings back on the basis that he had not intended to place such a large bet.

Longley initially asked to place £1,300 on an each-way bet for 16-1 horse Redemptive at Wolverhampton in September 2019.

He claimed he was so confident when he placed the wager that he accepted when the bookies offered to accept a bet ten times bigger.

The businessman took Paddy Power to the High Court accusing them of "welshing on the bet" after they paid out £28,600.

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But a top judge dismissed his case – leaving him facing a combined legal bill of around £85,000.

Mrs Justice Ellenbogen said the bet was only placed because of a mistake by a call handler relaying the size of his intended stake up the chain of command at the bookie.

The court was told self-made millionaire Longley was already £19,000 down in September 2019 when he took a punt on the horse.

He phoned Paddy Power's dial-a-bet to place a £2,600 bet – £1,300 each way – but the operator mistakenly relayed the intended total stake as £26,000 when seeking authority to take the bet.

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The bet was approved and Longley's account was credited with £286,000.

Longley's barrister Mark James argued the Paddy Power trader who approved the bet quickly regretted his decision and told his leadership team he had "massively overlaid" a bet.

The worker said he had taken a look at the punter's bets and believed he was simply "chasing" his losses and decided to accept the £26,000 stake.

Mr James said Paddy Power had contractually “accepted his bet” and effectively made a "counter-offer" in accepting the £26,000 stake.

As Longley had willingly accepted the offer, the bet stood, his lawyer argued.

Former RAF serviceman Longley said he had been happy to take the large bet.

He explained: "This was obviously a significantly bigger bet than I had asked for, but I was very confident that Redemptive would at least place in the race and so struck the bet."

But the judge agreed with Paddy Power's lawyers, who said due to the mistaken relaying of the requested stake to the trader, the bet was not valid.

The call handler and those above her were working on the basis the stake being accepted was the £2,600 Longley originally wanted to place.

The court was also told the call handler was referring to his original bet when she told the businessman it had been accepted.

Mrs Justice Ellenbogen said: "I am satisfied that, as a question of fact, the traders’ intention, as communicated to and via [the operator], was that Paddy Power would accept Mr Longley’s requested bet, which they erroneously understood to have been of £13,000 each way.

"First, as he acknowledged in cross-examination, in his approximately ten years as an account-holder, Paddy Power had never offered him a bet at a stake higher than he had requested, let alone one at ten times the latter and, objectively, in such a substantial sum.

"Mr Longley is an experienced and sophisticated gambler who, I am satisfied, realised at the time, as would have anyone in that position, that a mistake had been made somewhere along the line, particularly as the higher sum in question had come with no discussion or explanation and would have resulted from the simple addition of a further zero to the stake which he had requested.

"I consider it to be likely that it was for that reason that he checked the amount which had been deducted from his account before the race began."

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She added: "I reject Mr James’ submission to the effect that, whatever the origins of Paddy Power’s error, its consequential intention was to offer/accept an each-way bet of £13,000."

A spokesperson for Paddy Power told The Sun Online: "We welcome the High Court’s decision on this matter."

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