A LOAN shark who preyed on the most vulnerable members of society was jailed after being found guilty at trial.
Violent thug Gerald Daord, 52, handed over tens of thousands of pounds to desperate people who could not get loans any other way, charging as much as £350 interest on a £500 loan.
His dodgy money lending business was discovered in February last year when police raided his Wirral home over an unrelated matter and discovered notepads detailing more than £80,000 in illegal loans.
Joseph Millington, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court that orange, blue and yellow notepads were recovered detailing individual payments as high as £7,500 but because pages were ripped out it was impossible to know the true extent of his business.
Bundles of cash to the value of £3,500 were also recovered.
Mr Millington added that Daord, of Hampton Chase, Prenton, denied being an illegal money lender, saying he did lend cash to friends but did not charge and sometimes did not even get his money back.
Daord took the matter to trial and was last month found guilty on four counts of running an unlawful consumer credit business and one count of possession of criminal property.
The former pawnbroker and scaffolding company owner has convictions for dishonesty and violence going back to the mid-1970s and has served time for wounding and robbery.
Barry Smith, defending, said there was no evidence his client threatened or harassed any of the people he loaned money to and invited the judge to pass a suspended prison sentence.
But Judge Norman Wright declined that option and jailed Daord for 16 months.
He said: “People know there are some people you do not cross because of their reputation. They do not need to go round physically threatening anyone because of their reputation.
“There are some people you know you should not cross – those who are violent or have been in the past.
“When people could not pay you arbitrarily added more money.
“They have to be protected and a message has to go out to people minded to engage in this sort of business.”
Tony Quigley, the head of the England Money Lending Team, which brought the prosecution, said: “Illegal money lenders see themselves as a community service but really all they are doing is profiteering off some of the most vulnerable members of society.
“It really is despicable criminality, taking money off those who can least afford it and basically it is their only option.
“Illegal money lending and loan sharking is not a community service. It is criminal behaviour which we need to stop.”