A businessman told a judge that he burned $1million (£579,000) of his own money to avoid giving it to his ex-wife.

Bruce McConville told an astonished judge that he withdrew the cash and burned the money in two bonfires: $743,000 (£430,256) on September 23 and $296,000 (£171,407) on December 15.

The admission came last week during a contempt motion before Superior Court Justice Kevin Phillips.

McConville also defied a court order not to sell his properties because there was a fear that he was trying to keep the proceeds out of the court’s reach.

The 55-year-old Ottawa businessman and failed mayoral candidate sold several properties and businesses behind his ex-wife’s back.

McConville has not been paying child or spousal support as the court have been unable to figure out his finances

According to the Ottawa Citizen, McConville sold some assets to his former accountant.

Since his divorce the court has been unable to figure out what he owes in child and spousal support as his financial affairs remain a mystery.

As a result of this, he has been paying neither.

McConville told Judge Phillips he withdrew a total of $1,050,000 through as many as 25 withdrawals from six bank accounts — and had the receipts to back up his claim — but no longer had the cash to pay the support.

McConville went on to tell the judge that he had destroyed the money and burned it out of frustration of court proceedings.

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Judge Phillips told McConville that he found it hard to believe that he destroyed all of the money.

He said: “How does destroying over a million dollars advance your child’s best interest? You understand that’s hard to believe?”

Phillips didn’t buy his story and on Jan. 28 ruled that it was “crystal clear” that McConville “has very clearly and deliberately set out to thwart the court and the proper administration of justice.”

The judge has given McConville 30 days in jail to rethink his claim.