A CONVICTED fraudster who swindled investors out of more than £5m will be sentenced along with his wife and a former accountant later this month.
A judge yesterday lifted a banning order which had prevented the reporting of the guilty pleas of Brighouse man John Hirst who funded a luxury lifestyle over an eight-year period with money mainly obtained from ex-pat investors in Mallorca.
Hirst, of Millroyd Mill, Huddersfield Road, had previously been jailed for two-and-a-half years in the early 1990s after he conned Yorkshire miners out of their redundancy money.
A jury at Bradford Crown Court heard how Hirst, a former insurance salesman, used some of that stolen miners' cash to pay for helicopter trips to York races.
After several business ventures failed Hirst moved to Mallorca with his second wife Linda and the 61-year-old persuaded a number of ex-pats to hand over large sums - sometimes their life savings - for him to invest on the Dow Jones Index futures market with guaranteed returns of 18% per annum plus a bonus of 2%.
In June this year Hirst pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud and money-laundering prior to the start of a trial involving his 62-year-old wife, from Woking, Surrey, and former accountant Richard Pollett, 70, from Poole, Dorset.
Yesterday the jury convicted Pollett, who lived on Mallorca, of being involved in the conspiracy to defraud and last week they returned guilty verdicts against Linda Hirst in relation to two money laundering allegations and one of evading a liability by deception.
After more than 30 hours of deliberation they failed to reach verdicts on three further money laundering offences against Linda Hirst and Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC discharged the jury.
Last week the jury also cleared John Hirst's solicitor son Daniel, 35, of Marsh Lane, Leeds, and Linda Hirst's daughter Zoe Waite, 36, from Surrey, on further charges relating to money laundering.
Ex-pat Janet Corbin, originally from Manchester, who lost 200,000 euros in the swindle, said: “I'm absolutely delighted British justice has prevailed.
“Along with others, I fought for justice for three, long, hard years and, at times, despaired at whether we'd ever see the day these evil people who cheated us would stand accused of their crimes in the dock of a court of law.”
During the long-running trial the jury heard details of extravagant spending on a £100,000 wedding party for John and Linda Hirst in Mallorca following their Las Vegas wedding in 2006.
They also spent thousands of pounds on cruises, hotel stays, jewellery and their home in Mallorca.
At the start of the trial prosecutor Simon Bourne-Arton QC said the whole case was about greed.
Over the eight-year period between 2001 and 2009 investors handed over around £10m, but only got back about £4.6m.
Mr Bourne-Arton said none of the money was ever invested as promised and it had been used in the main to fund the life of John Hirst, his wife and Pollett.
Describing John Hirst to the jury Mr Bourne-Arton said he always gave the appearance of being a successful businessman, but he was anything but.
Because John Hirst was not investing any money the amount of cash he was able to give back to clients eventually began to run out.
Mr Bourne-Arton said all that was left was some bitterly disappointed people who had been made considerable poorer by their involvement with John HIrst.
Hirst, his wife Linda and Pollett now face prison sentences when they return to Bradford Crown Court on August 31.
As he granted conditional bail to a tearful Linda Hirst and Pollett the judge said it was ''a crime of the utmost gravity'' and he warned them that they faced ''dire repercussions'' if they failed to turn up at court later this month.