Monday, September 21, 2009

Lottery jackpot lands Canadian in jail

A Canadian man who won $44.4 million in a lottery in Toronto last Monday, landed in jail rather than enjoy wild parties after winning the jackpot.

Barry Shell, 45, who lives in the Indian-dominant city of Brampton on the outskirts of Toronto, was handcuffed immediately after he pocketed the cheque for the windfall.

The reason: he had an arrest warrant pending against him since 2003 for failing to appear in court to face charges of theft and illegal property.

Police swung into action as the man was posing for photographs after accepting the cheque for $4,377,298 (more than Rs.13 crore) at the provincial Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) headquarters here.

Police told him of the pending arrest warrant. A shell-shocked Shell was handcuffed and put behind bars.

He was produced in court to face charges of contempt for failing to appear before it, theft of $5,000 and possessing illegal property.

Under the strict lottery laws in Toronto, a jackpot winner is thoroughly investigated before he or she is handed over the cheque to prevent misuse of the newly acquired wealth.

The lottery body has posted a warning on its web site urging people to 'play responsibly'.

Among other things, it warns them against spending more money than they can afford, borrowing money to buy tickets, neglecting family and owning money to family, friends and credit cards.

Rui Brum from the lottery body told the local media that "any flags that are raised are immediately forwarded to the Ontario Provincial Police Bureau attached to the AGCO (the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario) for further investigation".

A press release by the lottery body quoted Shell as saying, "I went to the store and checked my ticket on the self-serve ticket checker.

"As soon as I saw how much I had won, I grabbed a pen and signed my ticket."

The next moment he was in handcuffs.