Finance director, 35, who stole £1m from employer to fund gambling habit is ...

A high-flying finance chief who plundered more than £1m to feed his online gambling addiction was today jailed for four years.

Steve Girling, 36, of Costessey, Norfolk secretly spent his employers' cash on web slots and roulette and spent up to £50,000 a day.

The father-of-two was so popular with online bookies that he was rewarded with free VIP trips to encourage his custom.

He drank champagne in five-star hotels and entertained pals with freebie tickets for races including Royal Ascot, the Derby and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Steven Girling with his wife Rashael on their way to Norwich Crown Court before he was sentenced for stealing £1million from his employer to find his gambling addiction

Steven Girling with his wife Rashael on their way to Norwich Crown Court before he was sentenced for stealing £1million from his employer to find his gambling addiction

Girling, who admitted theft was even flown out on an all-expenses-paid horse racing jaunt to see the Dubai World Cup, a court heard. 

Judge Stephen Holt told Norwich Crown Court: 'These thefts were skilled, professionally planned and executed.'

The court heard how Girling moved cash from sports education firm, Premier Education Group (PEG), where he worked as a finance officer, to his own accounts from March 2014 to October 2017.

He would bet £50,000 a day with three online gambling firms on slot machines and roulette while pretending to be at work in his home office.

Steven Girling (pictured with NFL cheerleaders at Wembley) said he was left on the brink of suicide after British gambling firms targeted him aggressively

Steven Girling (pictured with NFL cheerleaders at Wembley) said he was left on the brink of suicide after British gambling firms targeted him aggressively

He lost £18k in one gambling session - only to later be rewarded for his custom with VIP trips to horse racing meetings at Ascot and Cheltenham.

Girling was also treated to VIP tickets to see American football at Wembley, received tickets to his local team, Norwich City, and was given seats to see Everton, where his daughter, now 13, presented the man of the match award.

At the Total Eclipse race day at Sandown Park

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