Ex-garden centre owner pays back family after stealing almost £500k from elderly mother

Gary Woodley, formerly of Norwich Road, Aylsham. Pic: Archant library

Gary Woodley, formerly of Norwich Road, Aylsham. Pic: Archant library - Credit: Archant

A former Norfolk garden centre owner who stole almost £500,000 from his elderly mother has paid back tens of thousands of pounds owed to members of his family, a court heard.

Aylsham Garden Centre; the venue has been purchased by new owners who plan to repen it on October 31

Aylsham Garden Centre; the venue has been purchased by new owners who plan to repen it on October 31. Pic: EDP - Credit: Archant

Gary Woodley, 68, formerly of Norwich Road, Aylsham, was jailed for four years in October 2018 after he admitted fraudulently taking £480,000 from the estate of his 89-year-old mother, who has since died.

Woodley, who used to run Aylsham Garden Centre, was said to have used the cash to pay off loans and fund his lifestyle between 2013 and 2016.

Woodley was back at Norwich Crown Court for a hearing to claw back the cash he stole, following the sale of the garden centre he used to run, which recently sold at auction for £720,000.

Previous hearings had been adjourned so as to allow for the sale of the garden centre to go through to release the cash.

Benedict Peers, prosecuting, said the hearing was brought about due the misappropriation of funds from Woodley’s mother’s estate.


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He said cash due to the estate amounting to £223,179 had now been paid out and had been distributed to Woodley’s brother and grandchildren in the family.

He told the court that the cash was raised through the sale of the garden centre.

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Michael Clare appeared for Woodley at the hearing.

Judge Andrew Shaw said that the fact the money had now been paid out in full to those other family members meant an end to the proceedings.

He told Woodley: “That brings these proceedings to a conclusion.”

The garden centre was sold at auction for £720,000 and was brought by Brenda and Gary Groucott, who have been running the Wymondham Garden Centre, in Tuttles Lane East, for almost 20 years.

Mr and Mrs Groucott bought the garden centre, which is set in three acres back in July, and said in a recent interview that they are hoping to appeal to new gardeners inspired to work at home because of Covid. They are hoping to reopen the garden centre imminently.

They are planning a coffee shop and as well as plants they plan to sell everything for the garden.

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