Trio guilty of £10 million fraud

Brighouse man, John Neil Hirst aged 61, who admitted conspiracy to defraud ex-pat investors in a multi-million pound scheme.
Brighouse man, John Neil Hirst aged 61, who admitted conspiracy to defraud ex-pat investors in a multi-million pound scheme.

Three people will be sentenced later this month for their part in a £10 million fraud.

John Hirst, 61, of Millroyd Mill, Huddersfield Road, Brighouse, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to defraud and a further two counts of money laundering relating to a so called ponzi scheme targetting ex-pats in Mallorca.

He and his wife Linda Hirst, 62, of Surrey, used the cash to fund a lavish lifestyle including ex[pensive holidays, wedding parties and houses.

Financial advisor Richard Pollett, 70, of Dorset, denied a charge of conspiracy to defraud but was found guilty after a six week trial at Bradford Crown Court.

Hirst’s estranged wife also faced six charges of money laundering and a further charge of evasion of a liability by deception relating to her role in the fraud.

She pleaded not guilty to all counts but was found guilty on four charges.

The jury were unable to come to a decision on the other three money laundering charges after more than 30 hours of deliberation.

Linda Hirst wept in the dock as the verdicts were read out.

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 annum 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.

The rest 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.

The trio will be sentenced on August 31 with prison sentences likely.

Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC said: “The sentence is self-evident in both cases. This is a crime of the upmost gravity. We all know the reality.”