Andrew Furlong, whose 21-year-old daughter was killed in Tokyo in May 2012, made the claim on RTÉ radio’s Liveline show, saying the decision to place “novelty” bets on the high-profile murder trial brought shame to the country.
On Monday, Paddy Power controversially published adverts featuring Paralympics star Oscar Pistorius — who is accused of killing his model girlfriend Reena Steenkamp — ‘mocked up’ as an Oscar trophy, with the slogan: “It’s Oscar time. Money back if he walks. We will refund all losing bets on the trial if he is found not guilty.”
Despite provoking a wave of outrage over the publicity campaign, the bookmaker has refused to apologise for the adverts, saying they are “novelty” bets and do not affect anyone as they are only published outside South Africa, where the trial is taking place.
The betting company’s spokesman, who described the case as being like the “OJ Simpson [trial] on steroids”, said the advert is only reflecting public interest in the trial — despite the fact fewer than 1,000 bets have been made.
But Mr Furlong said Paddy Power’s decision to bet on the outcome of someone who has been murdered is insulting to anyone who has been affected by similar incidents in the past.
“If one of his [Paddy Power’s] kids was murdered would he want someone to come to one of his shops and put on a €5 bet [on the trial]? “If I did that, what would he say back to me? He has the audacity to say it is a novelty bet. No, I don’t buy that, it’s a money racket. Who the hell in their right mind would want to put a bet on it? They’re forgetting about families who are living through the pain [of losing a loved one]. It’s an utter disgrace for the sake of making a few pounds,” the grieving father hit out.
“If he had done the same when we were in Japan he’d have been the first person I’d have looked for when I got back.”
When asked what he would have said, Mr Furlong added: “I wouldn’t have said nothing. I’d have been looking at him on the ground.”
Mr Furlong’s anger was mirrored last night by the End Violence Against Women organisation, which said the advert is “disgusting” considering a person has died.
“They are making a game out of murder and the brutal killing of a young woman, which is unacceptable. It is not just that this is a bit sick — it also contributes to a culture in which violence against women is trivialised or made into a joke.
““They should withdraw the ad,” said director Holly Dustin.
More than 100,000 people signed a petition yesterday against the ad.
By midday 105,000 people had signed an online petition at change.org demanding the bookmaker take no bets on the trial.
A spokesman for Britain’s Advertising Standards Agency watchdog told AFP it had received 46 complaints about the advert and was looking into whether there were grounds for an investigation.