Millionaire property developer jailed for contempt of court following divorce proceedings
An 83-year-old divorcee who made his millions from property development has been jailed for contempt of court after failing to properly comply with his divorce settlement.
The settlement required John Hart to pass £3.5 million of his £9.4 million fortune to his ex-wife, Karen Hart. He was also ordered to pass shares in his business, Drakesdown Properties Limited to Ms Hart.
Reports suggest that the shares amounted to a “substantial part of the wealth” involved in the settlement, which was made in June 2015.
However, he had subsequently “done his utmost to frustrate her ability to run it efficiently and effectively,” according to the judge, Stephen Wildblood QC, who added that Hart “bitterly resents” the transfer of the company.
The judge said that having delayed transferring the company, all the management records, with the exception of a pair of bank statements and several licences and leases were “stripped out” by Hart and the company’s staff.
As he sentenced Hart to 14 months imprisonment, Wildblood said: “Mr Hart, so serious are these acts of contempt that only a sentence of imprisonment is justified.
“Having reflected on the contempt that you have committed, I have concluded that a financial penalty would be wholly inadequate. Orders of the court and the rule of law must be observed.”
He added: “This is a man who has received repeated warnings already that he must comply with court orders and he has chosen, repeatedly, not to do so.”
He described Hart’s actions as being “motivated by a wish to demonstrate his resentment against Ms Hart about the financial orders that were made in these proceedings in her favour.”