A FORGER who ran a counterfeit mint and cheated York businesses and shops with his fake £20 notes, has been jailed.

Darren Lea Wilson, 31, used a laptop, Photoshopped internet images, a computer printer, shoe polish and other equipment to produce between 100 and 200 fake Scottish £20 notes at his sister’s home, Laura Addy, prosecuting, told York Crown Court. They were apparently worth £2,000 to £4,000.

He took some of the notes to York where he deliberately chose low value items to buy and paid for them with fake notes so that he got genuine banknotes and coins in exchange. He was on bail at the time for passing counterfeit notes in Sheffield.

When police caught him in a car at Whitley near Goole, he had £100 in genuine notes and £85.85 in coins, as well as four fake notes. They later found fake notes in the tills of shops he had visited in York. Some of the fake notes had identical serial numbers to those found in Wilson's car or in his pockets.

“You travelled to York from your home in South Yorkshire with the express intention of passing on counterfeit money and obtaining change, and thereby changing bad money into good,” Judge Andrew Stubbs QC told Wilson.

“Your offences strike at the heart of all the commerce and trade that is carried on in this country.”

Everyone who used money trusted that the piece of papers in their wallet were genuine, he said.

Barristers for prosecution and defence agreed the maximum sentence for the counterfeit offences was two years. The judge jailed Wilson for 22 months.

Wilson, of Highgate Lane, Goldthorpe near Rotherham, pleaded guilty to three charges of having counterfeit notes, one of passing counterfeit notes, one of carrying a knife which was found in the car in Whitley and one of failure to attend court.

For him, Julian Brook said he used £50 of amphetamine a day and had been under pressure from people to whom he owed drug debts and knew what he was doing in his bedroom. It had been someone else's idea that he travel to York for the shopping.

He had used the Stanley knife to put replacement carpet in the car and had forgotten to take it out.

The judge ordered the counterfeiting equipment to be destroyed.