Cancer-hit property tycoon, 83, jailed for failing to hand over fortune to ex
An elderly businessman has been jailed for 14 months after he failed to hand over part of his multi-million pound fortune to his ex-wife following a bitter divorce battle.
Self-made property tycoon John Hart, 83, was ordered to give Karen Hart £3.5m of his £9.4 wealth, including a portion of his property business, Drakestown Properties Limited in 2015.
However, a court found that Mr Hart had failed to comply with the courts’ ruling and has consistently refused to hand over running of that business, worth £1.6m, to his former wife.
In March, Judge Wildblood said that Mr Hart was in "very serious and sustained contempt" and imposed a 14-month jail term on the plaintiff.
The judge stated that while he did not wish to jail an elderly man, it was clear that Mr Hart had shown “no remorse at all.” It is believed he has run up legal bills worth £500,000 since 2011.
Mr Hart, who is currently being monitored for prostate cancer, was allowed out on bail while the case was reviewed by the Appeal Court.
However, that decision was upheld by Lord Justice Kitchin, Lord Justice Moylan and Lady Justice Asplin as they refused to set aside a custodial sentence.
Lord Justice Moylan stated: "The judge was plainly entitled to conclude that the wife had been "seriously prejudiced by the husband’s actions" and that the husband’s breaches were ‘deliberate and sustained’.
"He took into account the husband’s health. He also recognised that imprisonment would have a ‘very marked effect on the husband’.
"In my view, the judge’s decision to impose a term of imprisonment was clearly justified."
Mrs Hart’s legal representative, Sarah Balfour, of Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth, said she had pursued the proceedings "with a heavy heart".
"All she has ever sought is the ability to run the company awarded to her in an effective way.
"She has behaved in an exemplary fashion in conducting the proceedings which were extraordinarily difficult, lengthy and costly due to the approach of Mr Hart."
John and Karen, a former flight attendant, were wedded in 1984 and lived together with their two children for more than 20 years in the West Midlands.
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