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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2006, 17:26 GMT
Gang jailed for 14m forged notes
Leigh-Nicole and Gerald Byard
Leigh-Nicole Byard and her grandfather Gerald were involved
Nine members of a forgery gang in the UK have been jailed for producing 14m in fake notes and threatening the stability of the national economy.

Terrence Riefe, 55, from Hertfordshire, got a seven-year sentence as leader.

Raids on 20 premises in Essex and London followed months of covert surveillance and stopped production.

Judge William Kennedy told Snaresbrook Crown Court in London it was the biggest counterfeiting operation ever encountered by the Bank of England.

This is not some quaint cottage industry
Judge William Kennedy

Passing sentence, he said: "This is not some quaint cottage industry organised by otherwise law-abiding citizens to eke out in an unusual way a few extra pounds to spend.

"This is a prime example of organised crime."

He said every UK citizen had suffered at their hands because the operation had attacked the stability of the national currency.

And he raised concerns that the notes had been used to fund organised crime.

Assets frozen

Three generations of the same family were involved in the operation, which was based in a tiny backstreet printing studio in east London.

Police began their intensive surveillance operation in August last year.

They believe millions more in fake notes are still in circulation.

But Helen Hughes, a CPS lawyer, said the gang's assets were frozen and prosecutors would seek to confiscate them.

Police believe millions more in fake notes have not been recovered

Three members of the Byard family were among the defendants.

Gerald Byard, 55, from Hockley in Essex, was sentenced to five years, while his daughter Tracy from East Ham in east London got four years, and his granddaughter Leigh-Nicole, 23, of Benfleet in Essex, got four years.

Anthony Williams, 50, of Hoxton, east London, and James Brook, from Dalston, were regarded as senior figures and received five-year sentences each.

Three other gang members were also jailed.

They were Paul Kemble, 42, of Islington, north London, Terence Jackson, 58, of Rochford in Essex and Patrick Wingrove, 71, of Shoreditch in east London.

The first two received three and five years respectively, while Wingrove got three-and-a-half years for his involvement in the counterfeiting and for supplying cannabis.

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