A notorious slum landlord has been ordered to pay Â£1.5million to the family of a businessman whose killing he wasÂ found to have arranged.
Nicholas van Hoogstraten – once described as a ‘self-imagined devil who thinks he is an emissary of Beelzebub’ – made his fortune as a loan shark and landlord in the 1980s and 90s.
But he is better known for his court cases regarding the gruesome gangland slaying of business rival Mohammed Raja, who was stabbed five times before being shot in the head at his home in south London.
In 2002, van Hoogstraten was convicted of manslaughter over the death of Mr Raja and jailed for 10 years, but the verdict was overturned on appeal.
Three years later, Mr Raja’s family was awarded Â£6million in a civil case after the High Court ruled that, on the balance of probability, Van Hoogstraten had been involved.
In a ruling in 2005, Mr Justice Lightman found that van Hoogstraten recruited two thugs to murder Mr Raja over a lawsuit between the two.
Another High Court judge has today ordered van Hoogstraten, now 71, to pay the family Â£1.5million in legal costs that have still not been paid to the family.
Mr Justice Norris also cleared the way for two properties he owns in Brighton worth up to Â£2million to be sold to clear the debt.
Van Hoogstraten was at the High Court today and came face to face with Mr Raja’s two daughters, Shazia and Razia, and his son Anjad who attended the proceedings.
Peter Irvin, representing the family, said of van Hoogstraten: ‘He has had no intention in paying this cost order.
‘He has enormous wealth at his disposal whether it is in name or not. He also has assets in his name in Zimbabwe and South Africa.Â Can pay, won’t pay is his motto.’
He added: ‘His attitude to the order is that is is fraudulent as far as he is concerned. He is not obliged to comply with it and thinks it is a worthless piece of paper.’
Van Hoogstraten has since moved to Zimbabwe, where he is said to be flourishing under Mugabe’s murderous regime and owns a huge plot of land.
Mr Raja’s family asked the court to declare the interim charging orders on two properties, registered by van Hoogstraten, be made final.
The properties are both in Brighton, with one worth up to Â£1.5million and the second Â£900,000.
Van Hoogstraten claimed the properties were assets of a trust he set up for his children.
But the judge found him to be in contempt of court for ignoring orders to pay costs to the Raja family which originally stood at just under Â£960,000 but had risen to Â£1.5million with interest at Â£180 a day.
After a day long court battle he was also ordered to pay an additional Â£52,000 costs with Â£35,000 on account within 14 days.
The judge made a charging order against both Brighton properties and Mr Raja’s widow must now seek an order for sale.
The costs order means the family can continue with their Â£6million damages claim.
Before the hearing, Sabeers Stone Green, the solicitors acting for Mrs Raja, told The Times: ‘The family feel that this is about obtaining justice – that is why they are pursuing the judgment that was found in their favour.’
Two years after the 2005 judgment, van Hoogstraten slunk out of the country to Zimbabwe, leaving behind his half-built Â£40million Sussex mansion Hamilton Palace, together with the vast mausoleum he built there for himself.
Neighbours of the sprawling property have called for it to be made into a shelter for the homeless or migrants.
The High Court hearing continues.