A lettings agent who stole thousands of pounds collected from tenants has been jailed for 20 months.
Kent Online reports that gambling addict Lee Grace was originally accused of stealing over £78,000, while he claimed it was around £16,000. A judge declared the figure to be £45,000.
Grace - who has just completed a jail sentence for a similar separate offence - worked for Kings Hill Properties, a West Malling lettings agency, and committed the fraud between October 2014 and February 2016.
Grace has admitted fraud and transferring criminal property but has disputed the amount involved.
Kent Online says his responsibilities at the agency included collecting cash payments mainly from deposits and rental fees.
Some 44 tenants were affected by the crimes, although the agency ensured none was out of pocket.
Grace told the court that the agency was siphoning cash to evade corporation tax but this was dismissed by the judge; the court heard that in reality he was making payments into an account with betting company Gala Coral Group.
After the court case a police spokesman said: “Grace has abused the good faith and trust shown in him by his employer in the worst possible way. Tenants also trusted him, paying him significant sums of money to secure a new home, or ensure their monthly rental fees had been received on time. They had no idea that instead Grace would steal this money, in order to fund a lifestyle which included spending tens of thousands of pounds on a gambling habit. Grace didn’t stumble into criminality by chance. He is a repeat offender and took this job knowing fully that it would give him the opportunity to steal and defraud."