James Hird and wife Tania caught in $30,000 tradesperson scam

James and Tania Hird are pictured leaving court.
James and Tania Hird are among a number of people caught up in a home improvement scam in which they were drastically overcharged for simple repairs. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

James Hird and his wife are among 11 alleged victims of a tradie scam which saw them drastically overcharged for what should have been simple home repairs.

The Essendon great and his wife, seeking repairs to a broken drainpipe on their home in Toorak, turned to a website to hire British and Irish workers to carry out the repairs, which experts have said should have cost roughly $350.

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Instead, James and Tania Hird were charged an eye-watering $31,900 for the job.

The Hirds got off lightly compared to other alleged victims, with Channel 7 reporting an 81-year-old man was charged more than $100,000 for work that was said to have left his home in worse condition than it was before the work began.

The leader of the alleged scam business fronted court on Wednesday to apply for bail.

Victoria Police reportedly arrested four men at Melbourne Airport last month who stand accused of being part of the scam.

Speculation has swirled that the Bombers could look to Hird once more to fill its coaching void, after the club parted ways with head coach Ben Rutten after a disappointing 2022 campaign.

Hird returned to the AFL coaching ranks as an assistant for the GWS Giants this season, returning to the AFL world after the fallout from the Essendon drugs saga in 2015.

The 49-year-old joined the Giants' coaching staff alongside former Bombers teammate Dean Solomon, and has since garnered interest for a return to the head coaching ranks.

While the Bombers legend has been linked to his former club, Essendon boss David Barham has insisted on playing down the rumours.

“I’m not sure what Hirdy’s got to do with it, to be honest,” Barham said when asked about Hird's prospects in the wake of Rutten's sacking.

“No one’s spoken to Hirdy. Does he want to (coach Essendon)? I haven’t asked him.

“How much more hypothetical can we get? That’s sort of like, ‘if one plus one plus one equals five’, what do you reckon?’ I can’t answer that.”

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The Bombers have already been linked to former mentor Hird but Barham said he hadn't "sounded out" any options.

Barham dismissed concerns over the club's culture and was confident the upheaval at Essendon wouldn't deter a senior coach from the job, saying it was a "fantastic opportunity".

"We've got a good list. We've got some room in our salary cap, we're a big club," he said.

Barham said he'd spoken to skipper Dyson Heppell and fellow leaders Zach Merrett and Andrew McGrath about the club's decision.

Rutten departed after coaching the Bombers to 17 wins and 26 losses across two seasons, including leading them to finals in his first campaign in 2021.

James Hird is seen giving instructions to a GWS Giants player.
James Hird returned to the AFL coaching ranks earlier in 2022 as an assistant for the GWS Giants. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Photos/via Getty Images) (via Getty Images)

Essendon have been starved for success over the past two decades and haven't won a final since 2004.

Barham cited "uncompetitive" performances this year as a key reason for terminating Rutten's contract a year early.

Rutten was emotional after the Bombers' season-ending 66-point loss to Richmond - and lamented his treatment from Essendon, which included Barham failing to initially notify him of the club's interest in Clarkson.

"It's been disappointing. I probably think I deserve better," Rutten said.

Barham, who apologised to Rutten afterwards, admitted the club had been far too late to the party with their botched pursuit of Clarkson.

He rejected the suggestion their delayed approach had been arrogant, saying the Bombers would have been "negligent" not to speak to the decorated coach.

With AAP

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