Elderly Pontypool loan shark threatened to 'smash up' vulnerable victim's house if he didn't pay

Horace Taylor, 73, of Crane Street in Pontypool, is thought to have loaned money to roughly 30 people. Credit: Media Wales

An elderly loan shark targeted "vulnerable" people, charging them extortionate interest rates and threatening them when they did not pay him back.

Horace Taylor, 73, of Crane Street in Pontypool, told one of his victims "I'm gonna get the boys to smash up your house" if he did not pay him another £500.

Taylor, a retiree from Cwmbran, would charge people he often met in pubs twice the amount they borrowed - known as "double bubble" interest - targeting people with "significant health concerns and [who] rely on the state for income support."

Cardiff Magistrates' Court heard one victim borrowed a total of £380 from Taylor but repaid £1,440, with the illegal loan shark demanding £230 more.

Prosecutor Emily Jermin told the court the victim initially met Taylor at a pub in Pontypool and originally borrowed £10.

"He continued to take loans from the defendant. They would often meet at Pontypool town centre," Ms Jermin added.

In March 2020, Taylor threatened to charge him an extra £200 if the victim did not pay up, and approached him in a pub later that year ordering him to pay £500 or face having his house "smashed up."

Taylor appeared at Cardiff Magistrates Court. Credit: Media Wales

The court heard another victim also borrowed more than £1,000. When he told the retiree he could not pay more due to his bills, Taylor replied: "I don't care about your Sky bills, I want your money."

The second victim's sister also borrowed £40 after meeting the loan shark at the pub, repaying double, before Taylor was arrested.

Investigators subsequently found the Cwmbran retiree had loaned money to roughly 30 people, although the prosecution was only able to draw on evidence from three victims due to much of Taylor's handwritten record-keeping being illegible.

Following his arrest, Taylor said: "I lent £100 to someone ages ago, before lockdown. I told him £50 each time to get him to pay."

He also claimed he had not intended to actually charge the interest he had warned of, saying it was "just an empty threat to make him pay."

Taylor admitted unauthorised money lending, with his guilty plea coming on the day of a scheduled trial.

In his defence, his solicitor Samantha Day said: "He has a supportive family network. He has caring responsibilities for his 75-year-old partner, who has cancer, and he has his own health difficulties. He has been open and honest."

Ms Day added Taylor had shown remorse and had been assessed as being at low risk of reoffending.

She conceded her client needed "assistance with risk-taking behaviour and his lack of consequential thinking".

Amongst his victims, Taylor targeted a brother and sister Credit: Media Wales

However, District Judge David Webster said Taylor downplayed his crime, despite his behaviour having a "substantial impact" on the victims.

Describing loan sharking as a "pernicious evil" targeting "the most vulnerable in society," Judge Webster ordered Taylor to pay £1,060 to his first victim, £660 to his second and £40 to the third - the amount of interest each had paid.

Taylor was also sentenced to three months in prison suspended for two years, was handed 15 days of rehabilitation activity and made to pay a £156 victim surcharge.

After hearing Taylor's only income is a state pension, the judge did not order the loan shark to cover the prosecution costs.

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