Page last updated at 17:27 GMT, Friday, 27 March 2009

5m counterfeit cash gang jailed

Dennis Hancox
The gang used 83-year-old Dennis Hancox's London flat to finish the notes

Five men have been jailed and one given a suspended sentence after admitting printing £5m in fake banknotes.

Eldest gang member Dennis Hancox, 83, whose home was used to print £20 and 50 euro notes, got a nine-month suspended sentence at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

The operation was foiled by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) which had them under surveillance for 10 months.

Two other men who also admitted the charges will be sentenced next month and three others have been acquitted.

Prison sentences

Hancox, of Chiswick, south-west London, whose house contained "highly specialised" equipment to print the fake notes, will have to wear an electronic tag between 1800 and 0600BST.

There are some who become misty-eyed and talk of the Lavender Hill Mob
Judge William Kennedy

Tony Rees, 46, Ramsey Gardens, Romford, Essex, was sentenced to 45 months in prison. Michael Duffy, 60 of Claremont Grove, Chiswick, was sentenced to 45 months in prison and another 24 months to run concurrently.

Donald O'Flynn, 67, of England Lane, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, received a 12-month-term.

Sheriff Oki, 29, of Edison Close, Walthamstow, east London, was ordered to serve 21 months for his part in the operation.

James Allam, 59, of Campbell Road, Hanwell, west London, was sentenced to 45 months in prison.

Judge William Kennedy warned against any romantic, "victimless" notions of their crime.

"There are some who become misty-eyed and talk of the Lavender Hill Mob.

"Counterfeiting, these same people suggest, is a victimless crime. What absolute nonsense that is."

The operation began in Glasgow but was transferred to a flat in Chiswick, west London where a printing press was set up in the living room of Hancox, the court heard.

'Professionally produced'

A foiling machine, for inserting metal strips in the notes, was bought for £9,000 and also installed in his flat.

The gang sold fake £20 notes for around £3.50 but were able to "round-up around 10 grand a week", according to conversations overheard by Soca.

THE COUNTERFEIT GANG
Dennis Hancox, 83, of Chiswick, west London
James Allam, 59, of Hanwell, west London
Michael Duffy, 60, of Chiswick
Angus Weaver, 52, of Bethnal Green, east London
Tony Rees, 46, of Harold Hill, Essex
James Watson, 58, of Castlemilk, Glasgow
Donald O'Flynn, 67, of Dunstable, Bedfordshire
Sheriff Oki, 29, of Walthamstow, east London

Bank of England officials later admitted the notes were "professionally produced".

The gang was monitored at various places including Claridge's hotel and South Acton Working Men's Club between October 2006 and July 2007.

When officers moved in, they seized more than £1m in 50 euro notes and £600,000 in old-style £20 notes from two addresses in London.

They eventually recovered an additional £3.4m worth of 50 euro notes, bringing the total face value of all fakes to more than £5m.

Some of the notes did get out into the economy, Soca officers said.

Those found not guilty included the man originally alleged to have been the gang's financier, George Short, 56, of Cumbernauld, near Glasgow.

Short, Mark Fish, 31, of east London and Kevin Carr, 32, from Glasgow, had all denied counterfeiting charges and were cleared by the jury.

The eight convicted men had all pleaded guilty.

Angus Weaver, 52, of Bethnal Green, east London and James Watson, 58, of Castlemilk, Glasgow will be sentenced on 24 April.



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SEE ALSO
Fake 20 notes gang sent to jail
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