Breaking: Brighouse businessman jailed for nine years for £10m fraud

Three people who scammed investors out of £10m have been sentenced at Bradford Crown Court today.

John Hirst, 61, of Millroyd Mill, Huddersfield Road, Brighouse, was jailed for nine years after admitting one count of conspiring to defraud and a further two counts of money laundering relating to a ‘Ponzi’ scheme targeting ex-pats in Mallorca.

The court had heard he and his wife Linda Hirst, 62, of Surrey, used the cash to fund a lavish lifestyle including expensive holidays, wedding parties and houses.

Financial advisor Richard Pollett, 70, of Dorset, was jailed for six-and-a-half years in prison after a jury found him guilty of conspiracy to defraud following a six-week trial at Bradford Crown Court..

Linda Hirst was also today jailed for two-and-a-half years after a jury found her guilty on four charges relating to the scheme.

Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC, on sentencing John Hirst, said his hands were tied by law. He said: “Nine years in prison for a man like you and things you did are not enough.”

He said to Pollett and Hirst: “You are through and through common criminals. You seduced investors to part with their funds and assured there was no risk.”

During the trial the court heard that Hirst had previously jailed for a scam targetting ex-miners in the 1990s but then he moved on to ex-pats on the Mediterranean island.

Investors were promised big returns of 20 per cent per year on their investment but Hirst and Pollett never invested the cash.

In total investors put around £10 million into Hirst’s investment firm Gilher Inc but less than £5 million was ever paid out to give the impression that the scheme was working.

It is believed they conned at least 120 people through the company out of their life savings of up to £250,000, including one investor who had cancer and gave his life savings to Hirst and Pollett and lost it all.

Cash was splashed on Hirst’s champagne lifestyle which included spending £90,000 on his Las Vegas wedding and at least £270,000 was spent renovating Hirst’s vill ain Mallorca.

Just under £160,000 was spent on hotels, holidays and flights with more than £25,000 spent on jewellery.

The couple went on a series of cruises and trips costing £75,000 and the couple stayed at the exclusive Burj Al Arab Hotel, in Dubai, on the way to the Seychelles for their honeymoon.

More than £46,000 was spent on accomodation at the hotel over various visits.