A WOMAN, who left a trail of broken promises, unpaid debts and mental devastation spanning nearly five years, after going bankrupt from the failure of two American diners she launched in Oxfordshire, has been jailed.

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'An emotional rollercoaster from hell' was how one victim described dealing with Claire Hilsdon at her sentencing hearing at Oxford Crown Court yesterday.

Naomi Perkins, who lost her own businesses as a result of what happened, was one of four women who shared the financial and mental toll of Hilsdon's actions on their lives.

Oxford Mail:

Claire and Jonathan Hilsdon outside the Volunteer pub, Grove, in December 2013. Picture: Ed Nix

Hilsdon, 45, who started the Chariots and Cherry Pie diners in Buckland, near Faringdon, and Grove, near Wantage, six years ago but then had to declare bankruptcy, used a fake name to start new businesses and make deals worth tens of thousands of pounds.

She admitted 10 charges, which ranged from May 2015 to January this year, at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on August 21.

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At her sentencing hearing yesterday the court heard the charges centred around various businesses ran by Hilsdon, of Glebelands, Bampton, offering PR and other services – repeatedly breaking the conditions of her bankruptcy.

Using the name Clara Florey, her maiden name and a nickname, she evaded being linked with her previous actions as she did deals, including one worth more than $174,0000 Singapore dollars.

Oxford Mail:

Claire Hilsdon, under the name Clara Florey, at AIM summit in Dubai in 2018. Picture screenshot from Youtube

Under bankruptcy rules people are banned from obtaining credit worth more than £500 without informing the lender they are bankrupt, acting as director of a company or carrying out business in a different name from the one they were made bankrupt under without letting people know.

Hilsdon opened Chariots and Cherry Pie American diner in Buckland with husband Jonathan in June 2014.

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The pair quickly fell into financial difficulties, failing to pay staff, and in December 2014, before a planned second diner at The Volunteer pub in Grove could even open, they liquidated the business.

Hilsdon was declared bankrupt in February 2015. This usually lasts for a year, unless there is evidence its restrictions have been breached.

Almost straight away, she removed £20,000 from a Lloyds TSB bank account, which should have gone to the trustee of her estate to help pay off debts from the American diners.

Within months she had also set up and was running What’s Ticking Today, an Oxfordshire Groupon-style service to help businesses increase customers with day-limited offers.

Oxford Mail:

Nina Musgrave

Nina Musgrave, who is stilled owed £14,000 work for Hilsdon for What's Ticking Today, cried in the witness stand as she talked about the 'blow' of each broken promise to pay what she was owed.

She said she experienced years of anxiety, sleepless nights and stress as she continuously chased Hilsdon each month for money.

Oxford Mail:

Naomi Perkins

Ms Perkins, who suffered severe mental health problems over the same project, said it was 'like an emotional rollercoaster from hell' and that even once she found out Hilsdon was bankrupt she felt she had invested too much money to get out.

Ms Perkins said: "I was frighteningly locked into this toxic relationship with a pathological liar."

Her actions over What's Ticking Today formed two of the charges and her repeated floating of the rules also led to her receiving a Bankruptcy Restrictions Order (BRO) in August 2017 at Oxford County Court.

Oxford Mail:

Naomi Perkins, at her cafe business which she had to close

This extended the conditions of her bankruptcy for eight years and remains until 2025.

Despite the order Hilsdon simply carried out setting up and running businesses, including PR firm Glory Agency, Dispruptive PR and Zora Chain, while using the names Claire/Clara Florey, which avoided her being flagged if clients or staff searched the Government’s insolvency register. The remaining eight charges stemmed from this.

Quentin Hunt, in mitigation, said Hilsdon apologised to the court as well as those impacted by what she did and he would seek to 'explain but not excuse' her actions.

Oxford Mail:

Claire Hilsdon, under the name Clara Florey, moderating the Cyptofin Conference in October, 2019. Picture screenshot from Youtube

He pointed to a psychiatric report which diagnosed her as having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and clinical depression.

Mr Hunt added her relationship with her ex-husband Jonathan Hilsdon had been 'abusive and manipulative'.

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Judge Nigel Daly, sentencing Hilsdon to 32 months in prison for the string of offences, said she was an 'extremely intelligent woman' and her bankruptcy conditions had been made clear to her but she 'completely ignored' them.

He said he had taken into account he mental health and other mitigation but that she had also caused 'anxiety and depression' in her victims.

Hilsdon was also disqualified from acting as director of a company for 10 years.