Ex-rugby player victim to over £1m mortgage fraud

Michael Lloyd

December 12, 2019

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A former Welsh rugby player was a victim of a £1m mortgage fraud committed by his wife and friend, Wales Online has reported.

Cardiff Crown Court heard that former Irish Lions scrum half Gareth Cooper was unaware his then-wife Debra Leyshon, friend and business partner Simon Thomas and associate Mark Lee fraudulently took out loans and mortgages in Cooper’s name.

Cooper had set up a company called Cooper Freight Services.

This was being run by Leyshon and Thomas with Cooper having no part in the day-to-day running of the business.

Despite the business being in financial trouble, they led Cooper to believe it was performing well.

The court heard to keep the company afloat, their family home had been remortgaged.

Four other properties had been transferred into their joint name and mortgaged.

Leyshon confessed to 13 counts of fraud. These added to more than £1m.

Thomas admitted being involved in two counts of fraud, amounting to £380,000 and was alleged to have pretended to be Cooper during a phone call.

Meanwhile, Lee admitted to being a part of one count fraud worth £50,000.

According to prosecutors he saw a solicitor and pretended to be Cooper.

Wales Online reported that Cooper was told he had been made bankrupt but when it was accepted he was a victim of fraud this was reversed.

When the fraud was found out he had to move and live with his parents.

Leyshon, Thomas and Lee have been remanded in custody for sentencing.

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