Regan King: Ex-Scarlets star 'tricked us out of thousands'

Regan King playing for Llanelli Scarlets Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Regan King enjoyed two successful spells with the Scarlets

An international rugby player has been accused of tricking ex-partners out of thousands of pounds to fuel a gambling addiction.

Former All Blacks and Scarlets centre Regan King, 38, recently left Welsh Premiership side Neath after playing across Europe and New Zealand.

Two women told BBC Wales they loaned him "thousands" after he pleaded for help with cash flow problems, but failed to pay them back.

Mr King declined to comment.

BBC Wales has been shown messages and emails from Mr King to several former partners which appear to show him admitting he owes them thousands of Australian dollars, which he promised to pay back.

Diana Stalteri, 40, from Perth, in Western Australia, said she met Mr King online in late 2017 and after they had been going out for several months he started asking to borrow sums of money.

Image copyright Diana Stalteri
Image caption Diana Stalteri (pictured right) said Regan King (left) borrowed thousands of dollars from her and failed to pay it back

She said Mr King had just signed a contract with Perth Rugby Club and, because "time was of the essence", she agreed to loan him some of the A$10,000 (£5,500) he asked for to pay off a debt - on condition she could see his contract and would be paid back at the end of the rugby season.

She said she broke off the relationship in May 2018.

'Sick from stress'

"It was an immediate family member [of Mr King's] that rang me with information about the money - that he had a gambling addiction, and the amount of money he owed people, particularly in New Zealand," Ms Stalteri said.

"I just knew you wouldn't get a call like that from an immediate family member without it being somewhat true."

Ms Stalteri said she had spoken with five other women who claimed to have had similar experiences while in a relationship with Mr King.

"Emotionally I ended up in hospital after I found out about all of this," she added.

"I got extremely sick from stress, knowing what type of man I was in a relationship with and the amount of lies and deceit I had experienced."

Image copyright Diana Stalteri
Image caption Ms Stalteri said she hopes she can prevent the same thing happening to anyone else

Ms Stalteri explained she had chosen to speak out in the hope she can stop it happening to anyone else.

Cheryl Wenninger, 47, also from Perth, met Mr King online in April 2018.

She told BBC Wales he appealed to her "compassionate side" by claiming that some of the thousands she loaned him in cash was for his children.

"He told me he was going through divorce proceedings and as part of those divorce proceedings all his bank accounts had been frozen," Ms Wenninger told BBC Wales.

"If I wasn't able to give him cash, he'd become quite distraught, quite emotional."

Image copyright Cheryl Wenninger
Image caption Cheryl Wenninger said Mr King claimed the thousands she loaned him would be for his children

After lending Mr King thousands of dollars, Ms Wenninger said she later read a message on social media which claimed he had a gambling problem.

"When I finally found out the truth, I contacted Regan... he told me he had a mental illness and he has been unwell for such a long time," she explained.

"There are no divorce proceedings, no bank accounts, no assets - and that was the premise for him to obtain money from me."

Coming to terms with the "shame" has been the hardest part, Ms Wenninger said.

"But then I realised that it's actually not my shame. I don't own that shame," she added. "There's really only one person here that should be ashamed, and that's Regan King."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Regan King played across Europe, including in France for Clermont Auvergne, after his move from the Scarlets

Ms Wenninger also hopes telling her story can prevent others going through the same experience.

BBC Wales has spoken independently to five women and two men, all of whom claim to have loaned Mr King money without being repaid.

Mr King did not deny the allegations when approached for comment, but declined to be interviewed. There is no suggestion he has acted illegally.

The women who spoke to the BBC wanted it to be made clear they were not paid for their interviews.

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