A CALLOUS conman who raked in £840,000 through crime has been ordered to hand over just £25,000. 

Swindler Stewart Kennedy fleeced Barrhead businesswoman Maxine McFarlane, among many others – and battered one of them with a baseball bat.

The 54-year-old told investors – including Mrs McFarlane, owner of Harpers Salon in Cross Arthurlie Street – that a franchise in his business was “the financial opportunity of a lifetime” for them.

But he used their money to go on two trips to the US, costing nearly £30,000, and paid for his son’s £1,400-a-month flat in London.

He took £144,266.85 in cash and spent the money in clothes shops in London’s Camden area, jewellers, and the Corinthian Club in Glasgow. 

He went on a Disney cruise, visited New York, Florida and Greece, and bought tickets to Rangers matches, jewellery for his wife, and meals in restaurants.

Prosecutors had been seeking to recover £151,452 from Kennedy, claiming he made £661,349 from his crimes.

Kennedy had previously submitted a letter denying he lived “a criminal lifestyle.”

But at Paisley Sheriff Court this week it emerged that he had agreed to pay back £25,000 of the cash his ill-gotten-gains - after prosecutors found he made £840,000 through crime.

The figure was revealed through Proceeds of Crime laws which allow the authorities to examine a criminal’s finances in the years before a conviction.

When the Proceeds of Crime hearing against Kennedy called at Paisley Sheriff Court yesterday, Procurator Fiscal Depute David McDonald said investigations had revealed “the benefit of his general criminal conduct” was £840,000, but the “recoverable amount” was just £25,000.

Sheriff David Pender made a Confiscation Order, giving Kennedy six months to hand over the cash.

Kennedy received a four-year prison sentence in January 2018 but has now been released from jail. 

Among others, the fraudster tricked consultant Hosney Yosef, pharmacist Yassir Shaheen, project manager Osamah Shaheen, and former KPMG principal consultant Sanjay Bhaduri.

He battered plumber Stuart Caldwell with a bat when he went to Kennedy’s home to find out what had happened to his £15,000 for a franchise and £18,000 loan.

Kennedy told investors they would receive a minimum of £4,600 per month for 10 months as a return on each £15,000 sum they invested.

He charged clients a fee to restructure their debts and said each franchisee would “own” a post code, securing them £575 for every completed debt rearrangement within the area.

Defiant Kennedy denied all wrongdoing during his month-long trial at Paisley Sheriff Court, and said: “I believe I was grossly underpaid based on the hours I put in and the effort.

“I’m entitled, as the owner of the company, to take money to pay for bills and, the last time I looked, I don’t believe it’s a crime to go on holiday.”

He blamed the collapse of the company on negative press coverage of him and said the collapse cost him £1.2million.

But a jury convicted him of three charges - two of fraud over the £247,405 in franchise sales and the £18,000 loan from Caldwell, and one of assault over the baseball bat attack.

Sheriff Seith Ireland jailed Kennedy for four years for what he described as “a substantial fraud” that allowed “a quite luxurious lifestyle.”

Kennedy had said he could immediately pay £50,000 back to his victims, and try and clear the balance if spared jail as he was earning around £100,000-a-year.