Cheshire loan shark Paul Nicholson stripped of £1m

Violent loan shark, Paul Nicholson Nicholson lived a life of luxury in a Cheshire mansion

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A loan shark who raped, blackmailed and assaulted his poverty-stricken clients has been stripped of his assets.

Paul Nicholson, who swindled millions of pounds from hundreds of people in Cheshire, had nearly £1m taken from him during a proceeds of crime case at Warrington Crown Court earlier.

One of his victims, 22-year-old Brian Shields, killed himself after a loan of £300 shot up to £3,000 in 12 weeks.

The 40-year-old was jailed indefinitely in March 2009.

The former nightclub doorman, who set up the firm Falcon Securities, would charge his clients up to 125% interest and if they did not pay up he would go to their homes and threaten them with knuckle dusters and baseball bats.

He gave many of his female victims the option to pay "in kind" and perform sexual acts for him if they could not keep up with their spiralling debts.

While some of his victims - who amounted to 800 across Runcorn and Widnes - turned to prostitution in a bid to raise the cash, he lived a life of luxury with his girlfriend, Tracey Rogers, 38, also of Delamere in Cheshire.

'Misery and fear'

She was jailed for four years after being convicted of blackmail and acquiring criminal property.

Nicholson was convicted of a range of charges including rape, assault, blackmail and operating without a licence. He was sentenced to a minimum of six years and 175 days before any possible release.

A mansion in Delamere, numerous exotic holidays, Porsches, a villa in Malaga, and an array of luxury jewellery were just some of the items he paid for with his stolen cash.

Cheshire Police said the pair made at least £2.7m while operating as Falcon Securities.

He made one woman perform oral sex on him, threatened to petrol-bomb another's house and told one distraught debtor: "Your priority is to pay me, not feed your kids."

Brian Shields Brian Shields killed himself because of his debt

Carol Highton, whose son, Mr Shields, hanged himself, was at court to witness the police get some of the money back.

"It makes me feel physically sick. I've seen the life that he led, he was living off ill-gotten gains that he stole from the likes of my son," she said.

Tony Quigley, head of the North West Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Team, said: "Nicholson is one of most despicable illegal lenders the team have prosecuted.

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

"Through the proceeds of crime this callous loan shark has been hit where it hurts."

Det Insp Terry Tinsley, of Cheshire Police, said if Nicholson "won the lottery" or "legitimately earned an income" they would take him back through the courts to make sure the £2.7m was paid back in full.

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