Gangster free after paying 1m

A convicted gangster said to have "ruled" a town through threats and intimidation has been freed from jail.

Millionaire builder John Gizzi, 36, from St Asaph, Denbighshire was jailed for five-and-a-half years in 2006.

His trial heard he was a "thug" and "bully" who assaulted homeless people and preyed on the weak and vulnerable in the Rhyl area.

He was freed after a judge at Mold Crown Court heard he had repaid 1m under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

An original order made under the Act found Gizzi had benefited to the tune of 6.89m from his crimes.

He was ordered to repay 2.6m, but that figure was based on a valuation of his assets before the recession.

They included a mansion which had been originally valued at 1.7m but eventually sold for 850,000.

Tight security

Gizzi had been due for release in December 2008, but he was ordered to serve another seven years because he had failed to repay the original 2.6m.

However, on Thursday Judge John Rogers QC reduced the order after the court - which was surrounded by tight police security - was told all his assets had been sold off.

As well as the mansion, 20 other mortgage properties were sold, and a Rolex watch.

Four number plates - JDG 1 to 4 - had also been sold along with a fleet of luxury cars including a Bentley Continental, Range Rover and a Mercedes.

Judge Rogers discharged the confiscation order and Gizzi was formally released.

An application by prosecutor Simon Mills that Gizzi should be responsible for the costs of the CPS and the receiver appointed to sell the property was rejected.

The judge said those costs should come out of the reduced order.

However, the court heard that the regional asset recovery team could pursue Gizzi for more money if they thought he could afford it in the future.

Judge Rogers told Gizzi: "As the crown point out, the actual benefit figure is a very much higher figure.

"It may well be that the crown will seek, if circumstances permit, to obtain further monies. That is a matter which must await events."

The judge said the fall in the property market was to blame for the lower-than-expected sum repaid, and not Gizzi.

It was previously found that Gizzi had made "tainted gifts" to his parents' building firm in the form of a building plot in Towyn, and a property in Rhyl.

The plot, which now has four houses on it, is due to be sold this week to his parents for 430,000.

Gizzi had previously admitted two charges of causing grievous bodily harm, one of assault causing actual bodily harm and one of conspiracy to supply counterfeit cigarettes.

He also asked for 22 offences of mortgage fraud - involving almost 1.5m - to be taken into consideration.