Newport 'loan shark', 83, ordered to pay back over £173,000

An 83-year-old "loan shark" has been ordered to pay back more than £173,000.

A proceeds of crime hearing at Cardiff Crown Court on Monday was told Tabitha Richardson from Newport will have to sell her home to raise the funds.

If Richardson does not pay the money back within three months she could face 21 months in jail, a Cardiff council news release said.

Richardson's property was raided by officers from Stop Loan Sharks Wales - an agency funded by the UK government which investigates and prosecutes loan sharks throughout Wales - in August 2020.

During the raid, £6,500 in cash was found in a safe. Other items discovered included bank books, lending books, files, and other paperwork.

After an investigation, Richardson pleaded guilty to illegal money lending, engaging in an activity requiring a licence, carrying out a regulated activity when not authorised or exempt, and money laundering.

At a hearing last August, Recorder Benjamin Blakemore said she had avoided an immediate period in custody "by a whisker" after sentencing her to 24 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

He described messages Richardson sent to her victims as "threatening and menacing to a degree".

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A spokesperson for the Shared Regulatory Services - a body that jointly provides some services to a number of unitary authorities in South Wales - said "the best way to deal with these matters" was to "recover as much money as possible" and said it was unlikely Richardson would have faced a custodial sentence due to her age.

"Loan sharks are often stereotypically portrayed as hard men wielding baseball bats, but Tabitha Richardson is female and despite her age, was menacing to her victims as well, threatening them when they did not pay their debt, often in the full knowledge that her victims were unable to pay," the spokesperson added.