A MOTHER-of-three, who was caught with counterfeit bank notes, has narrowly escaped being sent to prison.
Melissa Delaney, 32, of Skeltons Drove, Beck Row, was caught trying to use a fake £20 note at Pleasurewood Hills, in April last year.
Three months later, she was visited by police, who discovered a further 18 forgeries in her possession, Ipswich Crown Court heard on Friday.
Delaney, who had pleaded guilty to two charges of being in possession of counterfeit notes, was handed a 12 month prison sentence suspended for two years, with 12 months supervision.
Judge Peter Thompson said: “You must realise that you escaped prison by a very narrow margin.”
The court heard she had innocently received the fake money in payment for a trailer she had sold after becoming estranged from her husband, who is currently serving a prison term.
Robert Sadd, prosecuting, said she had then attempted to use one of the notes at the Lowestoft theme park and continued to keep others.
The notes, found in her bag and in the glove compartment of her car, bore the same serial number and had a face value of £380.
In mitigation, Matthew Gowen said that Delaney had been ‘duped’ while she was ‘at the end of her tether’.
Although not the source of the forgeries, she had kept them after being caught because she did not feel she could go to the police, he said.
Sentencing Delaney, Judge Thompson said: “The reason why counterfeit currency is treated very seriously is obvious. It undermines the whole banking system of the country if it persists.”
For breaching two conditional discharges, Delaney received a further month imprisonment, suspended for two years.