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U105 presenter Jonny Hero bankrupt

Johnny Hero

STAR drivetime radio DJ Johnny Hero has been made bankrupt for failing to pay tax inspectors.

Hero - real name John Cullen - was taken to the High Court by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The notice of the 59-year-old U105 presenter's bankruptcy was granted for "failure to comply with statutory demand" on January 20.

It came just days after he celebrated 30 years of broadcasting for which he thanked listeners for "letting me get away with it for so long".

The case has been ongoing since last August but came to a head on January 20 when the part-time pop singer and drummer with his band The Producers failed to pay his tax bill.

Aside from his popular radio show Mr Cullen performs DJ nights at pubs and clubs across Belfast including the famous Duke of York and the Dockers Club in the city's Sailortown area.

Mr Cullen is not the first local big radio name to have fallen foul of the HMRC.

In 2017, BBC Radio Ulster's Hugo Duncan was made bankrupt by the taxman over his private entertainment business.

The order against the country music show host was granted for 12 months, with his solicitor insisting he would fully comply with its term. Mr Duncan later described the process as "tough".

It has been rumoured in showbiz circles that local entertainment stars have been the focus of Inland Revenue probes into their earnings.

Cullen, from west Belfast, spoke candidly about other troubles in a newspaper interview late last year when he opened up about his battle with depression.

The presenter said he was left with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after he nearly drowned in a boating accident in June 2010. He had been broadcasting for Downtown Radio for a charity event onboard the Lord Rank when it crashed and sank near Ballycastle.

Sunday Life approached Mr Cullen for comment about his bankruptcy yesterday but received no response.

Under UK law you can only go bankrupt if you owe more than £5,000 to a creditor and it usually lasts one year

If you are required to help pay back the debt out of your income this can only last for three years.

Mr Cullen, who earned the nickname Hero for his performance of the David Bowie song Heroes, began DJing at the age of 16. He filled in for a group of nuns who played music at his local youth club but who couldn't make it one night.

Explaining how he secured the regular gig, he told an interviewer: "They'd go out every so often to the record shops and buy a few singles from the Top Ten, but they didn't really know what to get, so it could've been anything from The Wurzels to The Wombles.

"I spoke to the youth club leaders and said, 'Come on guys, seriously?' No disrespect to the nuns, they were brilliant, but I made a few suggestions and then the youth club leaders came back and said that they'd give me money to go out and buy records and I could take over from the nuns. That was it. And I loved it."

When he worked for Downtown Radio in 2007 he famously missed out on winning £125,000 after getting an answer wrong on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

He was asked who was on the throne when Robert Walpole became prime minister. He opted for George II but he debated the accuracy of the question as the title "prime minister" didn't enter official usage until the premiership of Henry Campbell-Bannerman in 1905.

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Belfast Telegraph