Serial fraudster jailed - Hertford


A serial fraudster was jailed for 15 months on Wednesday, 11 July 2012, after being "led into the temptation" of using fake £20 notes in a spree around Hertford town centre.

Leonard Hooper, aged 32, was already serving a suspended sentence for a similar offence when he was caught trying to use the forged notes at a string of shops.

The court heard how he successfully used one of the notes at Marks and Spencers before visiting the Blackbirds pub, where he was turned away by suspicious staff who refused to accept the note.

Undeterred, Hooper went on to a Costa coffee shop, just minutes later on 19 June, where staff unwittingly took the cash.

But police were already on to him, having been secretly contacted by the savvy barman at the pub.

A chase through the town centre erupted when Hooper, from Commonside Road, Harlow, resisted arrest, instead jumping into his blue BMW car in an escape attempt before giving up when officers blocked his path.

St Albans Crown Court heard on Wednesday that Hooper, who admitted one charge of passing counterfeit currency and another for tendering counterfeit currency, had 18 previous convictions for 38 offences.

Hooper has already been in prison on two occasions for using counterfeit money, including trying to use fake 50 Euro notes at the famous Hamleys store in London.

The former drug addict was in the middle of serving a two year suspended sentence for yet the same crime when he committed his latest spree.

Ciara McElvogue, defending, said her client was changing his life around by overcoming a drug addiction and enrolling at Hertford College to train as an electrician.

But she added: "He was cleaning out some old clothes when he came across some notes from some time ago and took the decision to use them again.

"He was led into the path of temptation."

Recorder Leslie Cuthbert concluded: You have a record of dishonesty and deception. This is a serious offence which has an impact on the overall economy.

"You continue to pose a high risk of being involved in counterfeit in the future; you have shown you are unable to resist temptation."

Recorder Cuthbert handed Hooper, who is engaged-to-be-married, a 12-month sentence for each offence, to be served concurrently, as well as a three month sentence for breaching his order. The 22-days he has already spent on remand will count towards his sentence.

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