Newton Abbot loan shark couple ordered to pay back their ill-gotten gains

A loan shark husband and wife from Newton Abbot have been ordered to pay back their ill-gotten gains or face prison time.

Paul Stretch, aged 60, and Mandy, aged 48, of Twickenham Road, Newton Abbot, both admitted illegal money lending and two counts of money laundering.

He was jailed for two years and three months and she was sentenced for ten months, suspended for two years, by Recorder Mr Martin Meeke, QC, at Exeter Crown Court in April.

At a POCA hearing last Thursday, August 22, the judge granted the confiscation orders accepting that Paul benefited from £17,052 and Mandy £17,308.  They have three months to repay their orders.

Mr Stretch was first jailed for 27 months back in August 2017 after a judge described his interest rates as ‘swingeing’.

Further investigations revealed that he carried on running his business from his arrest in January 2016 until he was jailed for the first time.  He issued 18 new loans and collected £14,000 from victims before his imprisonment.

The court was told that Mandy continued the business while her husband was in jail.  She made seven new loans for £6,500 and received £9,000 in total repayments from August 2017 until April 2018 when she was arrested.

Officers from the England Illegal Money Lending Team working in partnership with Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards and Devon and Cornwall Police executed a warrant at the couple’s home.

During searches they found £5,123 cash in a safe and loan books were retrieved from a hiding place at a house in Torquay.

Prosecutor Simon Mortimer said Mandy contacted one victim’s daughter asking her to make sure her mother made a loan payment.

The couple charged a flat rate interest of 50 per cent and upwards on each loan.

Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said:  “This POCA outcome demonstrates that crime doesn’t pay.  It also sends a deterrent message to criminals that justice may extend beyond a conviction and we will always use the legislation available to recover assets gained through unlawful conduct.

“I would urge anyone who has information about loan sharks to report it to the team so that their exploitative and unpleasant activities can be investigated and stopped before they cause any further harm to anyone within our communities.”

Paul Thomas, the Head of Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards said: “We work closely with the England Illegal Money Lending Team to bring these criminals to justice. If you or someone you know has been the victim of an illegal money lender please seek help by contacting the team on their national helpline.”

An estimated 310,000 households across the country are in debt to a loan shark. These criminals usually appear friendly at first but quickly trap their borrowers into spiralling debt.

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 394 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 480 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £74.9 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 29,000 people.

To report a loan shark call the 24-hour confidential hotline 0300 555 2222 or complete a secure form here.