A 47 year-old  Drumahoe man, who used counterfeit notes to buy a trailer at a car boot sale, has been told by a Judge that he is a ‘convicted thief that swindles innocent traders.’

Appearing before Limavady Magistrates Court on Wednesday, Gary Rankin of Lettershendony Avenue pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and tendering counterfeit currency.

The court heard that on January 6, police received a report from a man who was a trader at a car boot sale in Greysteel.

He told police that the defendant had purchased his trailer for £160.

The defendant had counted out 16 £10 Bank of Ireland notes and left with the trailer.  It was only after the defendant left that the injured party realised most of the notes had the same serial number printed on them, the court heard. 

Police officers called with the defendant and arrested him.

During interview he admitted using the notes but denied knowing that they were counterfeit.

He told officers that he had purchased a number of quads and had tidied them up before selling them on. This is where the notes had come from, the court heard.

Defence barrister Joe McCann told the court this was the defendant’s third time appearing before court in the past month and that he was in breach of a suspended sentence.

Commenting on the case District Judge Paul Copeland said: “This man is steeped in sourcing and acquiring counterfeit notes and passing them off to innocent traders and businesses. “

Defence Barrister, Mr McCann added: “This man is unemployed. His last day’s work was quite some time ago.

“In the past he worked as a tarmacer but he was involved in an accident where he shattered nine discs in his back and punctured his bladder.

“This man was given these notes after selling on a number of vehicles but there is no one in particular who he can pin point. He didn’t report the matter to the police,” he said. 

District Judge Copeland then asked, “How can someone who is unemployed afford to lose £160?”

Defence barrister Mr McCann added: “He has pleaded guilty.

“The sentence imposed by a brother judge has left something hanging over his head. 

“This case together with his record and the matter that occurred two days ago, means that this is the defendant’s third time appearing before court in the past month,” said the defence barrister.

Addressing Rankin during sentencing, District Judge Copeland said: “You are a convicted thief. It’s a matter of your record.

“You were convicted eight times up to 2011 for offences of dishonesty and being part of a scheme where you swindled innocent people, shopkeepers and traders.

“It has been to do with imperative impunity and the sequencing of sentencing, that by chance has fallen in your favour but I think that you deserve to go to prison.

“The custody threshold is well passed but sentencing for another matter has been suspended,” said Judge Copeland before passing down a five month custodial sentence, suspended for two years.

Rankin was also fined £515.

“I am satisfied that you have relations within the community who you source these counterfeit notes from and then use them to defraud and swindle innocent people,” added Judge Copeland.

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