Pair used counterfeit banknotes in shops in Ryedale, after ordering specialist equipment to make them

A career criminal has been jailed for over three years after travelling across the country to pass counterfeit Scottish bank notes in shops in North Yorkshire.

By Court Reporter
Thursday, 24th September 2020, 9:15 am
Updated Thursday, 24th September 2020, 9:18 am

Eamon McDonagh, 41, used the fake £50 notes in shops in Ryedale after being driven from Lancashire by his partner-in-crime Anthony Christopher McDonagh, who was also “up to his neck” in the counterfeit scam, York Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Rob Galley said the pair had researched counterfeit notes online and ordered special stampers and ultra-violet ink to make the Scottish currency look genuine.

Anthony McDonagh, 22, from Blackburn, drove the pair to North Yorkshire on April 7 last year in an unregistered Nissan X-Trail bearing false plates. They had taken with them a change of clothes to deter witness descriptions of them as suspects.

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Eamon McDonagh, left, and Anthony Christopher McDonagh

They used the fake notes at various shops in the region, including in Helmsley, added Mr Galley.

When police finally stopped them near Ampleforth the following afternoon, they got out of the car and made a run for it but were arrested after a short chase.

Officers found over £833 in genuine cash inside the vehicle, but no fake notes. False registration plates were found inside the car boot.

Mr Galley said the counterfeiters’ ill-gotten gains came to about £1,200.

Analysis of their phones showed they had searched for fake £50 notes and ultra-violet ink on the internet and chatted with others about the scam. There were also photos and videos showing them with piles of fake Scottish notes whose serial numbers matched those used during the counterfeit “expedition”.

Mr Galley said the fraudsters had been passing the fake notes in shops “and similar premises” around Helmsley, Thirsk and Northallerton, using “high-value fake notes to obtain low-value products and a corresponding, significant amount of change”, which resulted in a “double loss” to the victims.

They each admitted three counts of passing counterfeit currency and one count of making fake bank notes. A further charge of bearing false registration plates was left to lie on file.

Anthony McDonagh asked for a further four charges of passing fake £50 notes to be taken into consideration.

They appeared for sentence on Wednesday – Eamon McDonagh via video link after being remanded in Hull Prison since his arrest.

Mr Galley said Eamon McDonagh, also from Blackburn, had a long criminal history comprising 38 convictions for over 90 offences including 10 fraud matters and conspiracy to steal motor vehicles.

Anthony McDonagh had a hitherto clean slate but had been fully involved in the researching, making and passing of the counterfeit notes.

Defence barrister Alexandra Sutton, for Eamon McDonagh, said the married father had struggled with drug addiction for years which had led to criminality and a “need for money”.

Victoria Smithswain, for Anthony McDonagh, said the married father-of-one had an alcohol problem at the time of the offences.

Judge Sean Morris told the defendants: “You were both involved in the production of Scottish notes – that in itself shows a level of sophistication because people (in England) are unfamiliar with Scottish currency.

“You ripped off hard-working people who are doing nothing but trying to make an honest living. This is determined, planned crime in which you were prepared to deprive decent people.”

Eamon McDonagh was jailed for three years and eight months – a reduced sentence due to his guilty pleas and the current Covid crisis which is affecting prison populations.

Anthony McDonagh was jailed for two years and 11 months.