'Despicable' wedding planner jailed for £130k fraud

image copyrightKingdom News Agency
image captionCraig Williamson used some of the money to pay off gambling debts

A wedding planner who defrauded £130,000 from couples booking ceremonies at an Angus castle has been jailed for 30 months.

Craig Williamson, 42, diverted money from 39 couples who had booked weddings at Guthrie Castle into his own accounts before fleeing to Ibiza.

The castle's owner had to cover the cost of refunding the couples defrauded by Williamson.

A sheriff told Williamson he had committed a "despicable" crime.

Dundee Sheriff Court was told previously that some couples' events were double booked and others left in limbo weeks before their weddings.

Williamson had used some of the money to finance his gambling habit.

One bride paid £19,000 to Williamson and found out her wedding was not on the books only a week before the event, but it went ahead after the castle's owner Dan Pena met the cost.

image captionGuthrie Castle's owner had to cover the cost of refunding the couples Williamson defrauded

Williamson was hired as castle and estate manager in November 2014.

In early April this year he told colleagues he was going to visit his father in Glasgow, but did not return their calls.

A missing person's inquiry was launched and it was established Williamson had withdrawn £6,000 in cash and boarded a Eurostar train to Paris before travelling to Ibiza.

The court heard that Guthrie Castle stopped taking bookings for weddings at the venue after December 2017 as a result of Williamson's fraud.

Williamson, a prisoner at HMP Perth, admitted a charge of fraud committed between July 2015 and April 2017.

'Sorry mess'

Solicitor Billy Rennie, defending, said Williamson had developed a gambling addiction which led to the "initial temptation".

Mr Rennie said: "The losses began and he ended up robbing Peter to pay Paul and ends up in this sorry mess.

"He realises it will be a different world facing him on his release from prison."

Sheriff Alastair Carmichael told Williamson: "It was despicable to take money in good faith from people who made wedding bookings.

"One couple have had to move their wedding to 2019.

"As a result, a successful business of 12 years has been closed down due to this crime.

"Jobs have been lost and couples left in doubt about weddings."

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