1. ITV Report

Caerphilly loan shark who targeted 'the most deprived community' in Wales has been jailed

Credit: Cardiff City Council

Loan shark, Robert Sparey, 55, from Caerphilly has been jailed for three years and six months.

He was found to have made illegal loans of around £250,000.

His scheme involved more than 100 victims paying "extortionate" interest rates.

Cardiff Crown Court heard Sparey was claiming employment and support allowance, council tax benefit, motibility benefit and housing benefit. His Vauxhall Insignia was also funded by benefits.

Mr Sparey was a man on the face of it reliant on state benefits living hand to mouth.

He was in fact making substantial amounts of money from illegal businesses.

He sought to hide from view the movements of cash. There were threats to borrowers.

Even after his arrest he didn't stop. These were extortionate rates of interest.

He portrayed himself over a 20 year period, as far as the state are concerned, as a person who required their substantial help when in fact he was making substantial profits and bragging to the people around him about it.

– Tim Evans, Prosecutor

After Sparey's arrest his assets were £43,000 - including two Rolex watches worth £3,000 and gold jewellery worth £1,750.

We have heard a catalogue of misery brought by your money lending.

You yourself described yourself as a loan shark to one of the witnesses.

Not only were you preying on some of the most vulnerable and poor people in the community, often finding themselves tied into indebtedness over long periods to yourself, it was accompanied in some cases by threats and intimidation.

– Eleri Rees, Judge

Sparey pleaded guilty to engaging in an unlicensed money lending activities, using or possessing criminal property, possessing goods baring registered a trademark with a view to offer for sale, and perverting the course of justice.