Boat opertaor lost more than £70,000 in investment scheme

A BOAT operator whose vessel could be chartered for day trips lost more than £70,000 in an investment scheme run by Brighouse man John Hirst.

Graham Orr told a jury at Bradford Crown Court today that he even charged Hirst a reduced daily rate of 400 Euros because he regarded him as a friend.

Mr Orr, who lives in Mallorca, said Hirst regularly chartered his 10-metre vessel and he got the impression that it was for clients.

He estimated that Hirst had chartered the boat 10 or 12 times and that his wife Linda had accompanied him on most of the trips.

The court heard how Mr Orr and his mother initially invested 10,000 Euros in Hirst’s scheme which promised returns of 18% plus a 2% bonus.

Out of total investments amounting to over £145,000 Mr Orr received payments of just under £69,000 leaving a shortfall of £76,327.50.

The jury heard extracts from a series of emails between Mr Orr and Hirst in the summer of 2009 when Mr Orr needed his fund returning so he could buy a property in Scotland.

Hirst initially said there were problems with transfers from the bank in Cyprus and then blamed his own ill-health.

In one email Hirst said he had been having a nightmare transferring funds and added: “Believe me Graham I’ve not been doing this on purpose.”

As a result of the delay in getting his money back Mr Orr lost out on the property he was planning to buy.

Mr Orr said he thought Hirst was “a nice, friendly, decent chap”.

Hirst, 61, of Millroyd Mill, Huddersfield Road, Brighouse, has accepted his involvement in a so-called “Ponzi” scheme which swindled ex-pats in Mallorca out of millions of pounds and the jury has already been told that in the 1990s he was jailed for a scam involving ex-miners.

Financial advisor Richard Pollett, 70, from Dorset, is on trial accused of involvement in defrauding investors.

Hirst’s 62-year-old wife Linda, from Surrey, his step-daughter Zoe Waite, 36, also from Surrey, and his 35-year-old solicitor son Daniel Hirst, of Marsh Lane, Leeds, have all denied money-laundering allegations.

The trial continues.