Property developer’s sister joins him in jail after £9.4m divorce row

Property tycoon’s sister, 65, is jailed for three months because she refused to hand documents to her brother’s ex-wife after bitter £9.4m divorce row that saw him get 15 month prison term

  • Businessman John Hart was jailed for refusing to obey divorce court orders
  • Now his sister has also been given a jail term for failing to comply with orders
  • Judge bemoans ‘ridiculous situation’ that will see ‘highly respectable’ jailed

Property tycoon John Hart was jailed for failing to cooperate with his wife during a bitter  

A vicious £9.4million divorce row has led to jail terms for an 83-year-old businessman and his 65-year-old sister.

Self-made property tycoon, John Hart, 83, was jailed in Bristol earlier this year for failing to co-operate with his former air hostess ex-wife, Karen.

And now – in what a judge described as a ‘ridiculous situation’ – his sister, Susan Byrne, 65, has also been handed a prison sentence.

Although she acted out of ‘misplaced loyalty’ to her older brother, her ‘steadfast refusal’ to obey court orders had to be punished, said Judge Stephen Wildblood.

The long-running legal struggle was triggered when Mr Hart was ordered to pay 62-year-old former flight attendant Karen £3.5million by a divorce judge three years ago.

The businessman kept £5.9m of the marital pot, but was told to hand the keys to his thriving property business, worth £1.6m, to his ex.

But his attempts to thwart her effectively taking over the business earned the pensioner a 14-month jail term in March.

And now ‘highly respectable’ Mrs Byrne has also been locked up, for three months, for contempt of court.

A judge said she, like her brother, had defied court orders and refused to hand Mrs Hart the documents she needs.

Judge Wildblood said: ‘In my opinion, this is a ridiculous situation which is brought about by a steadfast refusal to obey court orders.

‘No judge, myself included, would ever wish to be in the position of having to sentence an otherwise highly respectable and respected 65-year-old woman.’ 

After Susan Byrne’s lawyers said they would take her case to the Court of Appeal, the judge stayed the sentence for 21 days. That will give time for the pensioner’s legal team to formally seek permission to appeal.


A judge said Mr Hart and his sister had failed to abide by court orders designed to give his ex-wife Karen (pictured) what she was awarded in their divorce battle

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