Runcorn mum whose son killed himself condemns loan shark

Runcorn and Widnes World: Paul Nicholson Paul Nicholson

AN evil loan shark jailed for raping, blackmailing and terrorising impoverished victims has been stripped of his assets, amounting to almost £1 million.

Nicholson, aged 40, who preyed on 800 terrified people in Widnes and Runcorn, amassed £2.7 million from illegal money lending and money laundering.

He charged extortionate interest and if his clients couldn’t pay, he threatened them with knuckle dusters and baseball bats.

One of his victims, Brian Shields, aged 22, of Halton Brook, Runcorn, killed himself after a loan of £300 rocketed to £3,400, in 12 weeks.

Nicholson, of Delamere, was jailed indefinitely in March, 2009.

His partner and bookeeper,Tracey Rogers, aged 39, was sentenced to four years.

At a confiscation hearing in Warrington Crown Court on Monday, Judge Thomas Teague ordered the pair to surrender their ill gotten gains.

This includes capital from a sprawling mansion in Golf Course Drive, Delamere, a luxury villa in Spain, £26,000 cash found at the house, a Porsche sports car, Landrover, quad bikes, Honda motorcycle, two horses and expensive jewellery, including a £5,500 Rolex watch.

Simon Mortimer, QC, prosecuting on behalf of the trading standards north west illegal money lending team, said his Spanish villa was worth £573,560 and the Delamere property, £900,000.

Mr Mortimer said: “The contents and furniture are valued at £10,830, a Porsche Carrera £32,500, Landrover £12,500.”

After mortgages and charges are deducted, the assets dropped to £857,087.

The couple moved from a terraced house in Hale Road, Widnes, to a 14-acre country estate, squandering £1.9 million, gained from Falcon Securities.

Carol Highton, aged 46, whose son, Brian, committed suicide, was in court to see the judge force them to surrender their millionaire lifestyle.

She said: “It was horrendous what they did to people.

“Whilst they lived in luxury with their porsche, villa and pool, poor people like my son lived in absolute terror.

“I knew nothing about this until the day I found my son hanging.

“Nothing will ever compensate me for the loss of my son.”

Tony Quigley, head of the north west illegal money lending team, said: “Nicholson is one of the most despicable illegal lenders the team has prosecuted.

“He resorted to horrendous methods to enforce his debts, leaving scores of people living each day in misery and fear.

“Cheshire Police did a phenomenal job finding all his assets. This is a great result.”

Det Insp Terry Tinsley, of Cheshire Constabulary’s economic crime unit, said: “This has been a complex joint investigation.

“Nicholson targeted and intimidated whole communities to fund his lifestyle. He is now paying the price for the misery he wreaked upon his victims.

“When he comes out of prison, we will continue to watch him.

“If he comes into money or wins the lottery, we will go back to court to make sure the £2.7 million is paid back in full.”

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