Seven years' jail for ace forger of £20 notes
A “TALENTED” forger who made £70,000 in the bedroom of his village terraced house was beginning a seven-year jail sentence last night.
Bachelor John Bennett, 52, ran his counterfeiting cottage industry from his modest home in Institute Street, Oakenshaw, near Crook, County Durham.
Judge Peter Armstrong, sitting at Durham Crown Court, ordered his scanning machines and photocopiers to be destroyed after hearing the fraudster carried on forging after serving four years for similar offences in 2002.
Bennett used his bent notes for a Christmas shopping spree of perfume and toys from Fenwick in Newcastle in December 2001. And he was arrested in July last year after fake notes were found in local shops.
But despite being bailed and arrested twice more, the forger carried on printing dodgy money.
His original laser printer was so large he had to take a door off its frame to get it into his small house. It was taken away by police, but he bought smaller replacement machines.
He faked £20 Bank of England, Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank of Scotland notes. They have turned up in shops as far afield as Wetheral, near Carlisle, the Scottish borders and Middlesbrough.
More than 3,000 forged notes with a face value of £70,920 were detected at banks and more continue to be found as they pass through the system. He used a laser copier to reproduce notes on to high quality paper, then added foil strips and layered on a watermark to make sophisticated copies, said Steven Orange, prosecuting.
Judge Armstrong said: “You are clearly a determined counterfeiter, one not without talent, as the quality of the notes is described as good. Unfortunately for you, that makes it more serious.”
On his release from prison, Bennett will be banned for five years from owning printing or scanning equipment, high quality paper, metal foil or ink. He must tell police about the premises he visits and allow police access to his home to carry out checks. It is only the fourth time that a Serious Crime Prevention Order under the Serious Crime Act 2007 has been used in this country.
Bennett admitted 14 counts relating to the production of counterfeit notes and one charge of possessing a firearm, an air gun, while prohibited.
Outside court, Det Insp Ian Sturrock said: “It was apparent that Bennett was working alone from his home address yet clearly the value of the counterfeit notes suggests that he had numerous contacts throughout the region and beyond.”