AN ‘absolutely charming’ convicted fraudster who lived a champagne lifestyle.
That is how John Hirst was described to a court which heard he had accepted involvement in a multi-million pound swindle.
The 61-year-old, who lived in Dewsbury and later Mirfield, in the 1980s and ‘90s, was jailed for two-and-a-half years in 1992 for obtaining money by deception.
Now a jury at Bradford Crown Court has been told that Hirst became involved in a so-called Ponzi investment scheme in Majorca after his release.
His previous conviction was revealed at the start of a trial involving his separated wife Linda, 62, his solicitor son Daniel, 35, his step-daughter Zoe Waite, 36, and 70-year-old financial advisor Richard Pollett.
Prosecutor Simon Bourne-Arton QC told the jury that Hirst had accepted being involved in defrauding investors through his company, Gilher Inc, which was registered in Panama and the Seychelles.
Investors were promised 20 per cent returns, but their money was never actually invested, Mr Bourne-Arton said.
“John Hirst has always given the appearance of being a successful businessman – he was anything but,” Mr Bourne-Arton said.
“Not only has every business venture he’s been involved in failed, he is, as I have indicated, a convicted fraudster.”
On Monday, Jenny May, one of the investors who lost money in the Gilher Inc scheme, said Hirst, of Brighouse, was “absolutely charming”.
On Wednesday, the court heard from boat operator Graham Orr, who said he lost £70,000 in the scheme. He said he had considered Hirst a friend and would let him hire his 10-metre vessel at a reduced rate.
Linda Hirst and Zoe Waite of Surrey, and Daniel Hirst, of Leeds, have all denied money-laundering allegations. Pollett, from Dorset, denies being involved in defrauding investors.
The trial continues.