Threatening loan shark jailed


A threatening loan shark who received full state benefits has been jailed for three and a half years at Cardiff Crown Court today.

Robert Sparey, 54 from Y Cilgant, Caerphilly, pleaded guilty to illegal money lending, possessing criminal property, selling counterfeit tobacco, money laundering and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The court heard that 116 victims were identified in this case, after the Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit raided his home on January 25th2017. A substantial amount of paperwork, £20, 000 in cash, two genuine Rolex watches, gold jewellery and two mobile phones were seized.

The investigation revealed that Mr Sparey had lent out over a three year period a quarter of million pounds, earning himself £61,839 in interest. Given that Sparey was operating as a loan shark for 20 years, the amount that he would have earned from his crimes was substantial.

The court heard that £109,000 of cash payments was money laundered through various accounts since 2011, but the total amount of money that he earned from his crimes remained unknown.

Stephen Grey, Head of the Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit, said: "This is a man who portrayed himself as a victim of physical and financial circumstances, hasn't been employed since 1990, received full council tax benefit, housing benefit, £57per week from the mobility scheme for his car, the highest level of employment support allowance possible and was in fact making substantial amounts of money being a loan shark. "

Mr Sparey typically charged £35 of interest on every £100 that he lent to his victims, but the amount of money that was charged in interest differed depending on the victims' circumstances.

At Sparey's home in Caerphilly money was often kept in his fridge which he named as his "safe", as well as biscuit tins and other places around his home.

The prosecution, Tim Evans, told the court that Sparey often collected money from his victims with his disabled son, who suffers from severe epilepsy and neurological problems. Mr Evans said that his "disabled son was used as a front" and he "flaunted his cash" and even after he was arrested and bailed he continued to collect loans.

Sparey who has 15 previous convictions dating back to the 1980's was described as "aggressive and intimidating", threatening victims with violence as well as "threatening to burn down a victim's house with her children inside."

Defending, Edward Mitchard told the court in mitigation that character references described Mr Sparey as "a very good man, a good friend and a marvellous neighbour" and that Mr Sparey was a man of "complex medical needs", that his disabled son was reliant on him and he was able "to co-parent his son despite the restraining order in place from his Ex-partner."

Gareth Sparey was given credit for his early pleas and was sentenced in total to three years and six months in prison, with half to be served in custody and half to be served on license.

A Proceeds of Crime Hearing will be heard in the New Year.