'This is not going to define George for ever' says sister who tells of the troubled teenage years of the brother sentenced for £200,000 Soham fraud
PUBLISHED: 15:07 26 April 2019
A different picture has emerged of George Leech, the 20-year-old sentenced for a £214,000 fraud, and that is of a troubled teenager who lost his mother to cancer at an early stage and went on to raise money for charity in her memory.
Friends of George got in touch after he was sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court to two years in a young offenders institution.
His sentence following his admission of “abuse of position” came after police investigated a 15 day spree at Turners' of Soham where his work in the account department enabled him to transfer £214,000 into bank accounts to which he was connected.
One of his friends told me: “George, at the age of around 13, lost his mum to cancer; and was then bought up by his elderly grandparents.
“His life spiralled out of control when he became addicted to gambling and he spent all his inheritance on this. He has been diagnosed by the doctors with depression but they were not much help.
“When his gambling got out of control he needed a get out and Turners was that. He came to a point in his life where no one was helping him and it was either get out of debt or end it all sadly.
“I look back on it now and think where was the help from the system? No help, no care at all for a young man going through so much. Since being caught he went onto raise thousands for charity, where's the mention?”
The charity fund raising referred to was a skydive last October at Chatteris for Cancer Research UK “in memory of my mother Rachel Leech” George posted to a justgiving page he created to raise funds.
“It has now been seven years since my mum sadly passed away due to cancer,” he wrote. “So I have decided to do a skydive on to raise money for Cancer Research UK. “If you could spare a few pounds to give money to a great cause it would be appreciated massively.”
Friends rallied round and he was able to raise £1,050 from 35 supporters, well above his £750 target.
His sister Sian said that whilst she didn't object to the court report of George's crime “my brother was also good and my family and him have lived in Ely all our lives and are good people.”
She said: “My brother raised money every year for my mum and I just would like it to be more both sided.”
Sian said her brother didn't, as the court reports suggest, take the money to fund a luxurious lifestyle.
“When he did this he was in a very bad place in his life (which everyone close to him was aware of). “
She said: “My brother and I both lost our mother to cancer when we were in secondary school which heavily impacted us and our lives.
“My brother never grieved for our mother and suffered later in life because of it which unfortunately led to him developing a gambling addiction.
“My brother has not hurt anyone or killed anyone – he stole some money to try and fix the problems that he had caused in his life.”
Sian added: “The point I am making is that everyone is struggling with something behind closed doors; everyone talks about mental health and the impact of it but are quick to jump in with opinions on things like this not realising the cause of the actions could do just that.”
Sian added: “Let people live; all of us make mistakes. This is not going to define George for ever.”
George had worked for Turners for three years but it was only last July that he carried out his daring plot to defraud them of the cash.
The court was told that he began his campaign of fraud on July 17 and over the following 15 days managed to transfer £214,032 into bank accounts to which he was personally connected.
“I'm glad I got caught,” he told police as he was arrested at Luton airport on August 7 as he was about to board a flight. “It was driving me insane.”