Tourist tried to fund hol­i­day us­ing fake cash

Court: Man used replica notes to get change

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - LOCAL NEWS - BY DAVID MACKAY

A Mo­ray tourist has ad­mit­ted scam­ming town cen­tre shops in a mis­guided at­tempt to fund his fam­ily’s hol­i­day in the north of Scot­land.

Thomas McDon­agh, from North­ern Ire­land, conned busi­nesses in For­res with fake £50 bank notes to get le­git­i­mate cash in change.

The 32-year-old was stay­ing at a car­a­van park in Nairn dur­ing May with his wife and four chil­dren in a bid to en­sure their trip was a mem­o­rable one.

How­ever, the alarm was raised when con­cerned shop as­sis­tants took the money to a High Street bank in or­der to check their au­then­tic­ity.

Po­lice later found McDon­agh at­tempt­ing to hide from them be­neath a bush with more of the in­crim­i­nat­ing faked bank notes scat­tered at his feet.

Ap­pear­ing at El­gin Sher­iff Court yes­ter­day, he ad­mit­ted two charges of pre­tend­ing to two shops that the fake coun­ter­feit cash he spent was gen­uine.

De­fence so­lic­i­tor Ian Malt­man re­vealed his client had bought the replica North­ern Bank notes from a friend and “took the chance” to use them to fund his hol­i­day.

Mr Malt­man said: “Mr McDon­agh was in the area with his fam­ily, stay­ing for a short pe­riod in the area at a car­a­van park in Nairn.

“He ac­quired these notes from an ac­quain­tance and took the chance that he could ex­change them for gen­uine funds to use dur­ing the hol­i­day.”

Sher­iff Olga Pas­port­nikov said: “He ap­pears to have hatched a plot.”

McDon­agh used one of the coun­ter­feit £50 notes in Nickel and Dime in For­res on May 8 – us­ing it to buy goods worth about £5 and gain­ing about £45 in gen­uine cash in change.

The other note was used in Mc­Coll’s on the town’s High Street the same day – where he bought two meals and a choco­late bar.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions later proved the notes to be fake af­ter bank staff found they were “not shiny” and the flu­o­res­cent lines on them were “not straight”.

Fis­cal Alex Swain said: “Po­lice were con­tacted and traced the ac­cused hid­ing un­der a bush. There was money ly­ing on the ground where he was hid­ing.”

Sergeant Chris Har­ris praised the quick think­ing from the busi­ness own­ers to al­low the po­lice to take ac­tion.

He added: “Please en­sure that all notes are ro­bustly ex­am­ined to es­tab­lish their au­then­tic­ity and if there are sus­pi­cions some­thing is not quite right de­cline it and con­tact po­lice as soon as pos­si­ble.”

McDon­agh, of Mill View Manor in Dun­gan­non, was sen­tenced to 150 hours of un­paid work and or­dered to pay £50 com­pen­sa­tion to both shops.

“There was money ly­ing on the ground where he was hid­ing”

PRE­TENCE: Thomas McDon­agh at El­gin Sher­iff Court af­ter ad­mit­ting us­ing fake ban­knotes

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