TWO local men were yesterday found guilty of deliberately ripping off businesses by using fake '20 Bank of England notes. After a three-day trial the Jurats of the Royal Court unanimously ruled that Andre de Carteret, 37, knowingly used counterfeit notes on five separate occasions and friend Steven Duquemin, 29, acted in concert with him on two occasions.
Both men had denied all charges.
The convictions represent the culmination of nine months' work by police since the discovery during one week earlier this year of '2,000-worth of the counterfeit notes in circulation.
Matthew Burdett, 31, has already been sentenced to seven months in prison for using a forged bank note and a similar concurrent sentence for possessing eight forged notes.
And Mark Cooper, 32, received a similar sentence for possessing 14 counterfeit notes.
Inspector Terry Coule said after the case that police were pleased with the results of the investigation into what was an unprecedented number of counterfeit notes in circulation at the same time.
'We do not find many forgeries in circulation during a year and certainly not as many as in this matter,' said Inspector Coule.
'This was a serious amount to have in circulation at one time but I am confident we have recovered all the notes that have been passed. No others have turned up since the completion of the investigation.'
In one week at the end of January and into February police seized 100 forged '20 notes that were in circulation around the island.
De Carteret's fingerprints were found on 16 of them but Duquemin's were on none.
De Carteret used some of them at the Houmet Tavern when putting bets on horses. Other gamblers subsequently found fake notes in their winnings and the bookmakers discovered they had been left with counterfeit currency.
Following de Carteret's success on the horses, the pair then spent the Saturday afternoon going to several pubs around the Bridge ' the Trafalgar Inn, the London House, the Mariners and Blind O'Reilly's.
While he was in the Mariners, de Carteret ordered two rounds of drinks, on both occasions paying with forged '20 notes.
The pair went to Blind O'Reilly's and between them they made three transactions, each time using fake '20 notes.
They then went into Town and bought more drinks using counterfeit '20 notes in the Harbour Lights.
De Carteret continued around Town using fake notes.
Police later found counterfeit '20 Bank of England notes at the Albion House, the Ship and Crown, Thomas de La Rue, the Apartment Bar, Red Onion, on the ground in the Truchot, with Securicor, which had collected money from Manor Stores and St Martin's Garage, and on Cooper and Burdett. Some had de Carteret's fingerprint's on.
'As soon as we were alerted to the fact that counterfeit notes were in circulation we moved efficiently to arrest the people responsible as soon as possible and alert businesses to the situation,' said Inspector Coule.
'A considerable amount of evidence was obtained in the early stages of the investigation which helped secure the convictions in the Royal Court.
'And the investigating team took steps to remove as many notes as possible from circulation as quickly as possible to protect businesses and individuals from receiving the counterfeit notes.'
He thanked the licensees and other witnesses for their assistance.
Inspector Coule said that if anyone believed they were in possession of fake notes, they could come to the station where assistance would be offered.
De Carteret was found guilty unanimously on each of the five counts he faced.
Duquemin was also found guilty unanimously on the two counts he faced jointly with de Carteret.
The case was adjourned for reports into each defendant. Sentencing will be on a date to be fixed after the completion of the reports.
De Carteret was remanded in custody. There was no application from Advocate Sarah Brehaut, defending, for open remand.
Duquemin was granted open remand after an application by his counsel, Advocate David Domaille.
The Bailiff Geoffrey Rowland allowed it because of exceptional family circumstances at the current time.
But he warned the pair that they had been found guilty of more serious counts than either Cooper or Burdett who had both gone to prison.
The Bailiff said that while it would be up to the Jurats to determine sentence, in his view, unless there were exceptional circumstances in their cases ' which he could not currently see ' they were likely to be facing a custodial sentence.