'King of Marbella' gangster who spent fraud money on £2m farmhouse,

A gangster dubbed ‘The King of Marbella’ is facing jail after being convicted of masterminding a £675,000 plan to defraud one of Britain’s biggest banks.

Bankrupt John Disley, 46, stripped failing companies of their assets in order to portray himself as a businessman with a £500million fortune, police said today.

He spent the money on a rented £2million farmhouse with an indoor swimming pool, games room, cinema, and tennis court, a £35,000 Range Rover, a £50,000 Mercedes-AMG, and a £2million yacht called Dawn Star which he moored in London's Chelsea Harbour.

John Disley, left, led a glamorous lifestyle and claimed he mingled with stars included former Eastenders actor Dean Gaffney, right

Disley often travelled to meetings in a helicopter and also owned a £2million yacht

He flew to meetings in a helicopter or drove in a Bentley Continental, and claimed that he mingled with a string of stars including Eastenders actors Dean Gaffney, Barbara Windsor and Steve McFadden and the singer and actress Claire Sweeney.

But Disley's high life came to an end when police, alerted by a tip-off, began investigating his business affairs in 2010.

A two-year inquiry by the force’s Financial Investigation Department tracked Disley and his associates across the country and uncovered a pattern where the gang would target cash-strapped companies, take them over and strip them of any assets, claiming they were being restructured.

They would then use the company as a front to open bank accounts and siphon money out of the Royal Bank of Scotland by writing fraudulent cheques.

Before the cheques could bounce, the money would be electronically transferred to a number of different bank accounts linked to Disley and his business interests.

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The court heard that four payments of £10,000 each were made to W W Holdings - a company owned by Wayne Lineker, brother of ex-footballer and BBC presenter Gary Lineker.

Disley also bought his daughter Laura an £182,500 farmhouse. He ran his head office from a small property in Much Hoole, near Preston.

He was was said to have angered residents by parking his Bentley across disabled spaces while he had breakfast in a Booths supermarket.

In 2010, Disley told The Sun newspaper that he had built up a £500million property and business empire by running security on the doors of nightclubs in Manchester.

He said Marbella - where he had been visiting for 14 years - was the 'perfect' place for British criminals on the run.

John Disley splashed out on a £2million yacht, named Dawn Star, which was moored in London's Chelsea Harbour

Disley rented a £2million house with an indoor swimming pool, games room, cinema and tennis court

He said: 'The international language of anything is English, including crime. Lads can come out here with no need to learn Spanish, the full English breakfast is on every corner, the sun’s shining and there’s money to be made.

'It’s a dangerous life they lead and most don’t survive. I always say - first you’re in a Cortina, then you’re in a BMW, then you’re in jail.'

Disley once managed the finances of Hull based Riverside Recycling Waste Ltd in 2007. But concerns raised by environmental health officers about huge piles rubbish being stored outside the plant were ignored and the mountain of waste soared.

Shorly after the company went bust in 2009 the illegal waste caught fire which took 60 firefighters four days to bring under control.

The blaze was started deliberately but the arsonists were never found and Disley was given a suspended sentence for environmental offences.

In another episode Disley took over a firm called Group Response based in Selby, North Yorks which employed more than 100 local people.

Tiles on the floor of the indoor swimming pool spelled out 'DISLEY'

But repeated bounced cheques led to workers not being paid their wages and the firm’s director ended up paying struggling families from his own pocket.

At Preston Crown Court this week, Disley, of Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit at £675,000 against the Royal Bank of Scotland alongside associates Jonathon Stowell, 41, of Bolton and Stuart Heggarty, 44, of Nottingham.

Disley's PA Victoria Quinn, 40, of Accrington, Lancashire, pleaded guilty to the same charge last October.

All four were convicted of conspiring to defraud another company - Bibby’s Financial Services - of £214,000 between 1 May 2010 and 31 December 2010.

Royal Bank of Scotland bank manager Russell Gary Alker, 39, of Fulwood, Preston, who worked at a branch in Wigan, was cleared of his alleged involvement in opening accounts for them. Thomas Aldred, 25, of Preston was also found not guilty.

After the case, Detective Inspector Andy Ellis, of Lancashire Police, said: 'Today’s conviction is the culmination of a very long and complicated investigation which has involved numerous lines of investigation across the country.

Disley also drove to meetings in a Bentley Continental when he wasn't using a helicopter (file photo)

This small office near Preston acted as the base for Disley's scheme

'Disley believed he was above the law. He portrayed himself as a legitimate multi-millionaire business man when in fact he was a bankrupt who made his living by asset stripping companies, which were in financial difficulty.

'It’s not right that criminals like Disley should live beyond their means, essentially at the cost of law abiding members of the community.'

DC Gia Rowland said: 'The King of Marbella was a title given to him by ex-pats in Spain because of his perceived wealth - but it was all his by finance.

'There was no one in the public gallery to support him when the verdict was given, which speaks volumes.'The group will be sentenced next month. A financial investigation will continue under the Proceeds of Crime Act as police try to get the money back.