A CONVICTED fraudster used some of the money he swindled from ex-pat investors and other people to buy a £530,000 house for his wife and step-daughter, a jury heard.
Prosecutor Simon Bourne-Arton QC told Bradford Crown Court that Brighouse man John Hirst, 61, used some of the proceeds from a multi-million pound “Ponzi” scheme to purchase “an attractive and substantial detached family home” for student Zoe Waite and his wife Linda.
Hirst, who was jailed of obtaining money by deception from redundant miners in the 1990s, has accepted his involvement in defrauding investors in the scheme, but his wife, stepdaughter and solicitor son Daniel Hirst have all gone on trial accused of money-laundering offences.
A fourth defendant, Richard Pollett, is also alleged to have been involved in defrauding the investors, but he has denied that charge.
Mr Bourne-Arton yesterday completed his opening of the case against the four defendants and revealed details of the house purchase in 2008.
Daniel Hirst is alleged to have been involved in the conveyancing for the property known as Cleve in Sandy Lane, Send, Surrey while he was working for Ramsdens Solicitors in Halifax.
The 35-year-old, of Marsh Lane, Leeds, later told fraud investigators that he did not suspect that any of the money given to him by his father to pay off debts or transferred to buy the house in Surrey came from the proceeds of crime.
Hirst said he was aware of that his father had been sent to prison, but after his release he had expressed remorse and he believed his father had recognised the error of his ways.
He said he had arranged for Ramsdens to carry out the conveyancing and he had little knowledge of his father’s investment scheme.
But Mr Bourne-Arton suggested that features of the house purchase including the fact that it was a cash transaction should have put a solicitor on notice that he should be suspicious about it.
The court heard that both Zoe Waite, 36, and 62-year-old Linda Hirst, who both live Surrey, believed John Hirst, of Millroyd Mill, Huddersfield Road, was a successful businessman.
They told investigators that they had also put money into his scheme and they believed the money used to buy the house in Send was from returns on their investments.
Pollett, 70, from Dorset, claimed that he had played a “low-key” role in the scheme, but said he had been paid commission for introducing investors.
He said he never thought the scheme was fraudulent and anything he told investors came from Hirst.
The trial, which is expected to last several weeks, continues.