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Gambling addict who blew £177k crippling Central Beach Caravan Park on Sheppey ordered to repay £1

A gambling "slave" who brought a family leisure business to its knees as she blew £177,000 has been told she only has to repay £1.

Mum-of-two Stephanie Graysmark became addicted to online gambling and spent the collossal sum in just 18 months.

She had been left in charge of the Central Beach Caravan Park in Grove Avenue, Leysdown, on the Isle of Sheppey.

Stephanie Graysmark (12728195)
Stephanie Graysmark (12728195)

Graysmark, 33, of Princess Parade, Waterside, Crayford, escaped going to prison because of her children.

Now, after financial investigation it was revealed she has no assets.

So, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, Graysmark will only have to repay £1.

The victim was the 73-year-old grandmother of Graysmark's husband who was later forced to sell the business to pay off the debts.

Central Beach Caravan Park in Grove Avenue, Leysdown. Picture: Google Street View (12728996)
Central Beach Caravan Park in Grove Avenue, Leysdown. Picture: Google Street View (12728996)

At a previous hearing, Judge Philip St John-Stevens told the fraudster: "What you did has had a catastrophic effect on the company.

“You deserve to go to prison but your children don't deserve to lose their mother."

Instead, he suspended a two-year jail term for two years and ordered her to wear an electronic tag for six months and do 180 hours of unpaid work for the community.

Prosecutor Stacey-Lee Holland told Maidstone Crown Court how the victim, Maureen Wharton, owned White Horse Leisure Centres Ltd in Leysdown.

Maureen Wharton was the victim of the crime
Maureen Wharton was the victim of the crime

Graysmark started a relationship with Mrs Wharton's grandson and began working as a receptionist at the caravan leisure complex in 2010.

"In 2014, Mrs Wharton was diagnosed with cancer and the defendant was then left to run the business, given control of the owners' business and private bank accounts."

In 2017, she was notified by staff that the phones had been cut off for non-payment of bills and wages hadn't been paid.

Graysmark claimed it had been an error but a report into the finances revealed £176,089 had been stolen – and she also admitted paying a £1,000 Paypal bill from Mrs Wharton's personal account.

Ms Holland said the thieving relative paid back the £1,089 with a cheque which bounced – but later the company went into liquidation and has since been sold.

The judge told her Graysmark that she had become a "slave to gambling" but had not set out to steal.

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Sheerness

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