A FRAUDSTER stole more than £100,000 to fund his gambling addiction betraying kind-hearted business owners who treated him 'like family'.

The ‘devastating’ fraud by Kelvin Bradley brought the cable company to the brink of ruin, forcing the owners to remortgage their home and move into rented accommodation.

They raised £80,000 by selling their three bedroom detached home but still had to let two members of staff go. Bradley has yet to pay back a single penny of the money he stole and may never be able to.

The 26-year-old of Everard Close, Worcester, a former pupil at The Chantry School in Martley, admitted fraud and was jailed at Worcester Crown Court on Wednesday.

Bradley was so trusted by the owners at Rhinocables that he babysat for owner, Dee Aust, who also gave him £500 towards a car for his birthday.

The £101,971 fraud was committed against the company, based in Astley, between December 2, 2013 and February 21, 2017 while Bradley was an administrative assistant, maintaining the company's many thousands of listings on eBay and Amazon selling cables and leads such as HDMI and audio cables.

Lal Amarasinghe, prosecuting, said Bradley, had the passwords for the company’s four eBay accounts and diverted money from the sale of company products into his own PayPal account using his personal email address. He would later change the email address back to that of the company, 'covering his tracks'.

He did this ‘on a regular basis’ over a period of three years and three months, diverting the cash into various online betting accounts with Ladbrokes, BetDaq and Paddy Power.

“He used the money to gamble away what he had” said Mr Amarasinghe. The money he stole gave him around £30,000 a year on top of his existing wages.

He added: "The defendant really was treated by the business as a member of the family and was totally trusted.

"The fraud was discovered by pure chance on Sunday, February 19 this year."

The business owners, Dee Aust and Andrew Pritchard, wanted to check a new product online and noticed company goods were being sold on eBay with the money going into Bradley's account. They recognised his two email addresses which contained his name, nickname 'Bradders' and date of birth.

Bradley was given the chance to repay the money first which the company then believed totalled around £7,500.

It was only when the defendant's father, Richard Bradley, said his son would be unable to pay the money back that the business contacted police. Bradley was arrested on March 1.

He told police: "It's all to do with gambling."

Dee Aust, the joint owner and company director, said she had been left 'heartbroken' by what Bradley had done but this had since changed to anger.

Miss Aust said his actions had caused her anxiety and disrupted her sleep.

She added: "The profitability of the company has been severely damaged. We had employed seven staff before the crime happened. I've had to let two members of staff, one full-time and one part-time. I have sold my home to keep the business running."

She said staff had to work extra hours because of what Bradley had done, creating an 'atmosphere of fear'. Miss Aust added: "This is something I will never forget. I really can't stress enough that he was part not just of a workforce but a family."

Business manager Kayleigh Andrews said: "I have never personally felt so cheated in all my life."

Mrs Andrews felt she had failed the company for not seeing what Bradley was doing sooner and worried for the health of Andrew Pritchard and Dee Aust whom she described as 'trusted, lovely people'.

Mrs Andrews, who has a young family, said Bradley's actions could have cost her a job.

Gail Vernalls another employee, said: "In truth he was totally dishonest, disloyal and deceitful. I trusted him and this has shaken me to my very core."

Mark Lister, defending, said: "Clearly the gambling addiction to which he has been subject for a number of years has effectively turned him into a split personality, someone driven by a gambling addiction while at the same time living an apparently normal life.

"He hasn't lived the high life. He's simply gambled it away."

He said Bradley, who lives with his parents and earns minimum wage as a nursery assistant, had previously been of positive good character.

Mr Lister described Bradley as 'very remorseful' and said he had received counselling for his gambling and had been under the care of a GP who had prescribed antidepressants.

However, he added: "His prospect of paying back the sum is indeed small."

Recorder Charles Foster, sentencing, said Bradley said: "The impact on the company has been devastating. It could clearly have taken them under."

Recorder Foster jailed Bradley for three years.

Speaking after the hearing, Dee Aust said: "Although I would have loved the sentence to be longer, I think three years is fair. I'm not a bitter person. It's not going to ruin his life. It could make his life for him."