A businessman who set up a camera in his bedroom to catch a thief repeatedly stealing money from him was stunned to see it was his best friend of 25 years.

Dad-of-two Michael Williams, from Larkfield, Kent, said he suffered a “huge betrayal” when he discovered it was pal Billy Smith, 32, that had taken the cash.

Smith, godfather to Williams’ children, admitted four offences of burglary committed between May and June this year, culminating in almost £4,000 of stolen money to pay off debts from his cocaine habit.

Billy Smith, left, with Michael Williams

Mr Williams told of how the childhood friends attended Lunsford Primary School together and stayed friends well into adulthood, working together at the Larkfield Leisure Centre and playing football together.

They were so close that Williams’ house was adorned with pictures of the two, with his children even nicknaming Smith “Bibby”.

Prosecutor Mary Jacobson told Maidstone Crown Court how Smith, of Aylesford, initially had been house-sitting for the family in February, before targeting the home again while they were on holiday in June.

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Williams, owner of an artificial grass company, had left £1,000 in a drawer but assumed he had misplaced the cash when he returned to find it empty.

When another £700 went missing two weeks later, he installed a camera in his bedroom and was devastated to see the crook was pal Billy.

The dad said: “It was a huge betrayal of trust, I didn’t think he’d ever stoop that low.

Billy was caught on camera stealing money from his friend's drawer

“He was in our wedding pictures, we had photos of him in the front room and on the stairs, holding the kids.

“We were really, really close and it taints all of those memories.

“We’ve been saving up because we want to take the kids to Disneyland when they’re older, so it’s not just me and my wife he’s stolen from, he’s taken money away from the boys who loved and adored him. That’s what hurt me the most.

“If he was having money problems and he had just come to me, I’d have tried to help him, I’d never shy away from that.

“But now I don’t ever want to see him again, I feel that let down. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive him.”

Billy Smith has to pay back £3,984 in £100 weekly instalments

Smith was handed a one-year jail sentence, suspended for two years, and will have to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work as well as mandatory rehab to tackle his drug addiction.

He will also have to pay £3,984 to Mr Williams at a rate of £100 a week, and was given an indefinite restraining order.

He told the court: “I know what I did was the lowest of the low and inexcusable, not just for what I have done but the breach of trust alone.

“I know I can’t ever put that right but I can put right what I have taken if given the opportunity to do so.”