A WOMAN who lost tens of thousands of pounds in an investment fraud has described convicted conman John Hirst as “absolutely charming”.
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 a jury has already been told that in the 1990s he was jailed for a scam involving ex-miners.
Bradford Crown Court has been hearing evidence from investors who lost money and one of them Jenny May was asked by the barrister representing Hirst’s seperated wife Linda what her husband was like.
“He must have been a very plausible person, very believable,” suggested Mr Nigel Sagster QC.
“He was charming. Absolutely charming,” said Mrs May.
Under the scheme investors were promised returns of 18% a year plus a 2% bonus and Mrs May said she had been assured by financial advisor Richard Pollett that there was nothing to worry about.
Mrs May said Pollett, who is on trial accused of involvement in the “Ponzi” fraud, told her that Hirst had a “back-up fund” and she thought the figure mentioned was £20 million.
“Richard Pollett told me there was a back-up fund and that is definite,” said Mrs May.
“I wasn’t sure if it was £20 million. Whatever he quoted the figure was a substantial amount.”
In an email she later sent to Pollett Mrs May asked whether there was any chance of them getting their money back and described the situation as having turned into a nightmare.
Pollett, 70, from Dorset, has denied 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.