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  1. ITV Report

Gambler who stole £1m to feed his betting addiction is jailed for four years

Steve Girling stole £1 million from his former employer to feed a gambling addiction. Photo: ITV News Anglia

Steve Girling, 36, from Norfolk has been jailed for four years after stealing £1 million from his former employer, Premier Education Group, to feed a gambling habit which he says almost cost him his life.

Norwich Crown Court was told he diverted company money into his own account and then tried to cover his tracks by adjusting spreadsheet entries.

He admitted a single count of theft at an earlier hearing.

Judge Stephen Holt, sentencing, told Girling: "For nearly a four-year period you stole over a million pounds from the company you worked for as finance director.

"These thefts were skilfully planned and executed so the loss to the company wasn't noticed and was passed by three separate audits."

  • Click to watch a report from Norwich Crown Court by ITV News Anglia's Kate Prout

Before the sentence, Girling told ITV News: "I was playing £100 a spin and spinning every few seconds.

"Some days I'd do five figures on the slots. I was playing as soon as I woke up in the morning - any spare time.

"I was neglecting everything really, friends and family.

"I had suicidal thoughts. I'd self-harmed and overdosed. The pain was awful and there were times when I thought it was better that I wasn't here."

Girling, of Folgate Close in Costessey near Norwich, admitted stealing from his employer Premier Education Group between May 2014 and October 2017.

Judge Steven Holt said Girling spent £500,000 of the stolen money on gambling "but the other half is effectively unaccounted for".

He said Girling had put money into his personal savings account, set up Isas for his children, moved to a larger house, paid off that mortgage "and possibly another mortgage".

"During the time you were stealing these huge amounts of money, according to you for your gambling addiction, you managed to save in excess of £100,000 in your personal savings account.

"That was not touched to feed your gambling habit.

"People who really suffer from extreme gambling addictions tend to arrive here with nothing, only debts. You arrived here with some considerable assets."

– Judge Stephen Holt
Steve Girling said his gambling had a huge impact on his wife Rashael and his two children. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"When I printed off those first lots of bank statements, I had to run to the toilet to be sick because that's the first time I really knew how much I'd stolen.

"It's a silent addiction. You can do it on your phone all day every day. You could quite easily walk past someone in the street who has it.

"It's dreadful and it destroys yours and others lives. It's dreadful and I want to try and help as many others as I can."

– Steve Girling
Norwich Crown Court heard that only half the £1.1 million of stolen cash was used to fund a gambling habit. Credit: ITV News Anglia

As Steve Girling blew thousands of pounds a night, betting firms sent him rewards.

He was classed as a VIP customer and treated him - along with his wife and friends - to lavish horse racing trips.

Girling says he has not bet since.

He is now training as a life coach and working with charities to try to help other problem gamblers.

For help and advice on gambling addiction