A Ponzi cheat who scammed victims out of £14.5million and used the cash to pay for holidays abroad and school fees has been jailed.

Freddy David, of Hartfield Avenue, Elstree, swindled 55 people - including his friends - out of money, which he also used to fund his gambling habit.

The 49-year-old pleaded guilty to obtaining a money transfer by deception and fraud by abuse of position at Southwark Crown Court and has been jailed for six years.

David, who is married  to former Harrow West Conservative parliamentary candidate Hannah David, who was a Hertsmere councillor for nine years, ran a Ponzi scheme through wealth management company HBFS Financial Services Limited, of which he is managing director.

The fraud, from 2005 to 2017, was running in parallel with legitimate HBFS business.

David used the company's money as a means to defraud victims out of vast sums of money - and investments per victims varied between £20,000 and £750,000.

He convinced the victims, so of who he knew personally as friends, their money was being held in high interest bank accounts.

But instead the money went directly into his own bank account, as well as being used to pay other investors.

Between January 2005 and November 2017, David spent £15.6millon on gambling websites.

In one day alone, he spent £240,000.

Victims were provided with forged bank documents which supposedly confirmed that the investments had been made and that interest was being accrued each month.

He was also disqualified for being a director of a company for ten years.

Police Staff Investigator, Katie Watkins, said: “David took advantage of individuals who placed significant trust in him. He abused his position and as a consequence this has had a devastating impact on the victims and their families, both financially and psychologically.

“David was a well-respected member of his community who exploited this in his position as a managing director of a recommended financial advisory firm to gain trust from unsuspecting investors.

“This fraud has caused significant emotional distress and financial harm to the victims involved, many of whom invested their life savings in HBFS.

"Some victims are retired and are not in a position to recover the money lost.

“The City of London Police has worked tirelessly to investigate this case and to ensure that David was brought to justice for his despicable crimes. We worked closely with the Financial Conduct Authority to stop David from committing more fraud and to stop him in his tracks.

“Today’s sentencing reflects the severity of this fraud and should serve as a warning to those who think they can get away with such calculated and callous acts.”

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the Financial Conduct Authority, said: “Freddy David abused the position of trust he had as managing director at a regulated firm to run this appalling fraud.

"The FCA have been working closely with the City of London Police throughout and will now be carrying out its own enforcement action against David on the back of the criminal conviction to prevent him working in financial services again.”