Gareth Cooper's ex-wife to pay back £1 after £1m fraud


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Getty Images

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Gareth Cooper played for Bath, Celtic Warriors, Newport Gwent Dragons, Gloucester and Cardiff Blues in his club career

Rugby star Gareth Cooper’s ex-wife has been ordered to pay back just £1 after swindling him out of £1m.

Ex-British and Irish Lions player Mr Cooper, 41, set up two gyms and freight businesses to be run by Debra Leyshon.

But Leyshon, 41, fraudulently obtained mortgages and loans in her husband’s name while telling Mr Cooper the struggling business was “thriving”.

She also re-mortgaged the family home and four other properties, and Mr Cooper was bankrupted by the con.

The former Wales international previously said his trust in others had been “destroyed”.

Leyshon was given a two-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty to 13 counts of fraud – totalling more than £1m.

Her business partner Simon Thomas, 47, and associate Mark Lee also received suspended sentences after admitting fraud.

On Friday, a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing at Cardiff Crown Court was told Leyshon, from Bridgend, had benefitted to the tune of £371,271 and Thomas, from Cowbridge, £161,081.

But Judge David Wynn Morgan ordered both to pay back just a £1 nominal sum within the next 28 days.

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Wales News Service

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Debra Leyshon was ordered to pay back just £1 after a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing

Roger Griffiths, prosecuting, said: “Leyshon and Thomas have both been made bankrupt and their assets are being dealt with by a trustee in bankruptcy.

“As a result, the Crown will only be able to recover a nominal sum due to their status.”

Lee, 43, from Exeter, was not subject to the hearing as the prosecution did not go ahead with POCA proceedings against him.

In a statement read out at sentencing in December, Mr Cooper 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.”

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Wales News Service

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Mr Cooper said previously his trust in others had been “destroyed”

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