Pair evade prison over farcical bid to print £5 notes on home computer
A man and a woman who created fake £5 notes on a home computer have been spared jail – because their attempt to make the counterfeit money was so bad.
Clive Willis and Lynne Wintersgill were given community orders for their parts in the drunken scheme to print three £5 notes after appearing at Leicester Crown Court on Monday.
Two of the notes were used at a shop, where the pair claimed they had "been through the wash".
Police were called and the pair admitted the crime after being arrested.
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Judge Jeremy Lea told the pair: "In normal circumstances, an offence such as this requires a court to pass a custodial sentence. But this is at the very bottom end in terms of this type of offence.
"It was doomed to fail, given the very poor quality of notes produced on a printer at home.
"How you thought you could get away with it I don't know.
"I can only think that because you'd both been drinking you didn't realise this was bound to be discovered.
"Your chances of getting away with this were negligible."
Prosecutor Faye Mellor said the couple tried to spend the money at a shop in Market Harborough in October.
She said: "The defendants took items to the till to pay. The defendant Wintersgill handed over two £5 notes and claimed they had been through the wash."
After the pair paid for the shopping with the counterfeit cash, the store assistant told her manager about the strange £5 notes and he called the police.
The pair, who were known at the store, were arrested and admitted what they had done.
Wintersgill had a third fake £5 note on her when she was arrested.
Willis (50), of Edwin Court, Market Harborough, pleaded guilty to making false currency notes. Wintersgill (35), of Nelson Street, Market Harborough, pleaded guilty to tendering false currency notes.
Delyth Crisp, representing Willis, said her client had no idea how seriously counterfeiting money would be taken by the courts.
She said: "Mr Willis, having been drinking, decided to take up the challenge of making a £5 note. He hadn't fully appreciated the seriousness of this until he realised he was headed to crown court.
"It was a highly-unsophisticated, amateurish operation."
Sally Bamford, representing Wintersgill, said her client had recently had a problem with alcohol, as well as anxiety and depression, but had now stopped drinking and that the pair no longer spent time together.
Judge Lea gave each defendant a community order, with 12 months of supervision by the probation service.
Willis was also ordered to have treatment for alcoholism and both were ordered to pay a £60 victim surcharge.