A TEENAGE magistrate who bought a £7m company then lived the high life while it went bust within months is now behind an attempt to buy a nightclub, I can reveal.
Despite facing a personal bankruptcy petition and the fact that his multi-million pound company is now in liquidation, Gareth Darbyshire is attempting to move into new areas of business.
A company backed by him has been given a licence to re-open a notorious nightclub in Nottingham which was closed down last year due a history of gang-related violence.
The development comes after the Sunday Times revealed how Darbyshire bought a previously successful Welsh firm last year – when aged just 19 – and then lived an extravagant lifestyle while it went bankrupt. Last week Darbyshire resigned his position as a magistrate following the Sunday Times disclosures.
The police and Serious Fraud Office have been asked to investigate the £7m deal he struck to purchase TPT Construction Ltd, based in Narberth, Pembrokeshire, in February last year. Darbyshire was able to buy the firm without having to put up any significant amount of his own money and the former owners say he failed to pay them the agreed price.
The company, which had an annual turnover of between £6m and £8m when Darbyshire bought it, is now being wound up and has creditors understood to total at least £4.5m. Dozens of workers have been thrown on to the dole and more than 200 local businesses and suppliers have been left out of pocket.
While TPT was allowed to accumulate unpaid bills Darbyshire spent thousands on lavish foreign trips to Monaco, Ibiza and Dubai, hired a yacht and a helicopter, and drove or hired Ferraris, Rolls-Royces and other cars, some of them on the company’s credit card.
He also stayed in the penthouse suite at Claridge’s hotel and employed an entourage of security guards at £220-a-day each in order to give him a VIP image. He even spent £350 on sending a driver from Manchester to London to pick up a bottle of aftershave from Harrods.
Now Darbyshire, who comes from Preston in Lancashire and was privately educated at fee-paying Bolton School, is attempting to realise his dream of being a nightclub owner.
A company, Mirage Venues Ltd, which has his former schoolfriend Ross Pinkerton as its only director, has successfully applied to Nottingham City Council for a licence to run the Isis nightclub. Mirage is owned by Darbyshire Group Ltd, of which Gareth Darbyshire, now 21, is the sole director.
Isis had its licence revoked last year at the request of the police after a man was stabbed 13 times and gangs staged fights with champagne bottles in the car park.
Nottingham City Council confirmed that it had now granted a licence to Mirage Venues after the company agreed to meet more than 50 separate conditions including that the venue be renamed.
A spokesperson for Nottinghamshire Police said it had withdrawn its initial objections to the licence after being assured Mirage would meet the conditions set out by the city council licensing authority.
The spokesperson said:
“We initially objected due to concerns that the original application could result in an increase in crime, disorder and nuisance and its failure to meet licensing objectives. After discussions with the company, Mirage, they agreed to adopt the necessary licensing conditions and our objection against their licence was subsequently dropped.”
More details also emerged this week of the scale of Darbyshire’s spending on the TPT credit card. He splashed out £12,600 at Claridge’s Hotel in Mayfair in just two days and also blew £11,000 on one day at a five star hotel in Gstaad, Switzerland and more than £1,000 on a VIP at a Manchester nightclub.