THE captain of Great Harwood Cricket Club has revealed in court that his life fell apart after he gambled around £200,000 on roulette.

Blackburn magistrates heard that Russell Whalley, the son of Accrington Stanley chairman and a director of E W Cartons in Rishton, could have lost his wife and children as a result of his problem.

But defence solicitor Robin Phoenix said his client had now sorted out his debts and joined Gamblers Anonymous.

"Like alcoholics, he is a gambler and always will be but he has put his problems behind him," said Mr Phoenix. "He is now treasurer of the local branch of Gamblers Anonymous."

The circumstances came to light after Whalley, 39, of Martholme Close, Great Harwood, pleaded guilty to driving at 86mph in a 50mph zone on Yew Tree Drive, Blackburn.

He was fined £400 with £50 costs and his licence endorsed with six penalty points.

Mr Phoenix said Whalley was one of four siblings who own E W Cartons and as well as being a director he delivered and sold products.

"I would ask you to mark the offence with penalty points rather than a driving ban, allowing him to continue his work," said Mr Phoenix.

* Whalley revealed after the hearing that he became addicted to playing electronic roulette in bookmakers. He had to remortgage the family home to clear off his debts but has now gone a year without gambling. He claimed he had transformed his life and had received "incredible support’’ from his wife Gillian and family including dad Eric.