“Yep, you got me.”
That’s what former international cricket umpire Darrell Hair told his managers at a bottle shop when they confronted him about stealing money from the till.
In the grip of gambling addiction, Hair was working at D’Aquino’s Liquor in Orange, in central west NSW, nine years after ending his long and colourful career as an umpire.
In what the magistrate called a “monumental fall from grace”, Hair stole $9005.75 between February 25 and April 28 this year.
Darrell Hair, centre, and Billy Doctrove, left, examine the match ball with Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq on the fourth day of the fourth Test against England in 2006.
He was fired from the shop in May when his bosses found CCTV footage of him taking money from the cash register and putting it in his pants pocket.
The 65-year-old, famed for no-balling Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing in a Boxing Day Test, pleaded guilty to one charge of embezzlement and one charge of stealing in Orange Local Court on Monday morning.
Prosecutors dropped another 43 charges.
A fact sheet tendered to court said Hair would regularly make unauthorised refunds and pocket the cash, or take the money directly from customers.
“[Hair] stated that he had no excuse for his dishonesty and he had let his gambling get too far out of control during the early months of 2017 and failed to react to the signs that it was out of control,” the document said.
He made full admissions when interviewed by police.
“My client has been in the public eye for many years and this is a bit of a fall for him, to find himself before the court in these circumstances,” Hair’s solicitor Andrew Rolfe said.
“This is an aberration in the life of a man who, prior to this, had a lifetime of service to the community and to a sport that he loved.”
Magistrate Michael Allen said Hair’s actions were a breach of trust, but noted Hair had repaid the stolen money, written letters of apology, and was in counselling for depression and addiction.
Mr Allen sentenced Hair to an 18-month good behaviour bond, and did not record a conviction, stressing the law treats everyone the same way, regardless of public standing or privilege.
“There are some in our community, in particular on commercial radio, who speak with loud voices for justice to be stern and unrelenting,” Mr Allen said.
“But that would undermine what it sets out to achieve.”
Mr Allen said gambling ads were everywhere, and gambling addiction was “no less real than an addiction to drugs … or alcohol”.
“It’s a journey he will live with, and no doubt struggle with, on a daily basis for the rest of his life.”
Hair was at the centre of one of cricket’s most notorious moments when he repeatedly no-balled Muralitharan during the Boxing Day Test between and Sri Lanka at the MCG in 1995.
Muralitharan had his action cleared the following May, and then again in 1999, and went on to become one of the most famous bowlers in Test history.
Hair was also one of the umpires who decided to penalise Pakistan for suspected ball tampering on the fourth day of the fourth Test against England in 2006.