Former British and Irish Lions star Gareth Cooper has said ‘I do not think I will ever be the same again’ again after being defrauded by his wife to the tune of £1 million. The BBC are reporting how Mr Cooper’s ex-wife, Debra Leyshon, has been ordered to pay a nominal fine of just £1 for the million-pound fraud which was carried out while the pair were married.
A Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing in the UK heard how Cooper had set up two gyms and freight businesses to be run by Leyshon.
Cooper (41) was told by his wife that the businesses were thriving, when in fact she had been leveraging the businesses to take out mortgages under her husband’s name. Cooper had been bankrupted by the con, which also saw Leyshon leverage mortgages against their house and four other properties.
Leyshon, her business partner Simon Thomas, 47, and associate Mark Lee had previously pleaded guilty to fraud and had all received suspended sentences. The hearing at Cardiff Crown Court was told Leyshon, from Bridgend, her personally received £371,271 from the fraud, while Thomas, from Cowbridge, had bagged £161,081.
The pair however were only ordered to pay the nominal sum as both had been bankrupted by their attempts at fraud.
In a statement read out by Cooper last December, he said: “I was deceived and manipulated by the person I trusted the most – my wife and the mother of my children.
“I do not think I will ever be the same again.”
He described his ordeal as a “dreadful experience which has destroyed my trust in others”.
“Debra betrayed my trust and jeopardised our children’s future.”
Cooper made 46 appearances at scrumhalf for Wales and one Test appearance for the British and Irish Lions in their 2005 tour of New Zealand.
Cooper spent his early career with Bridgend before stints with Bath, the Celtic Warriors and the Dragons. He departed the Welsh region at the end of the 2006–2007 season, after a successful year in which he made twenty appearances and scored two tries in the Dragons’ European Challenge Cup campaign, for English Premiership side Gloucester. He retired in 2009.
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