£1 coins counterfeiter jailed

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The Independent Online

A 49-year-old man was jailed for three-and-a-half years today after he admitted running a counterfeit coin factory producing thousands of pounds of fake £1 coins, police said.

Stephen Silk, 49, ran the enterprise at a rented industrial unit on Tonge Corner Farm, Tonge, near Sittingbourne, Kent, until it was raided by police on May 13 last year.



Sentencing him at Maidstone Crown Court, Judge Philip Statman said the "highly sophisticated" venture was "capable of undermining the system of currency in this country" and a deterrent sentenced was therefore called for.



Unemployed Silk, of Wises Lane, Borden, Sittingbourne, pleaded guilty to making counterfeit £1 coins, having counterfeiting materials and possessing counterfeit coins with a view to distributing them as genuine on July 24 last year, but sentencing was delayed until two other defendants went on trial.



But jurors failed to reach verdicts on the charges against his father, Michael Silk, 79, of Sanderling Way, Iwade, near Sittingbourne, following a trial at the same court last December.



Meanwhile the older man's brother-in-law Paul Bart, 65, a maintenance engineer of Stanborough Avenue, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, was acquitted of all the charges.



Officers from Kent Police discovered the counterfeiting factory while they were executing a search warrant for drugs at the rural farm.



When they entered the unit rented by Silk they discovered coin-making paraphernalia hidden in a concealed room behind wooden panelling.



Inside they found £8,000 worth of prepared coins and 14,000 yellow metal discs waiting to be pressed with the insignia on them while a hydraulic machine press was found - to stamp coins and add edging to the currency.



During the subsequent search, officers also recovered many other items including coin and die moulds, real coins with wax residue, special high temperature plaster and a water cooling system to cool the hydraulic coin press.



In addition, disposable latex gloves were recovered from a bin in the hidden coin room which had Silk's DNA on them.



Detective Chief Inspector Nicky Kiell, head of the force's serious and organised crime unit, said: "This is a very satisfying outcome to what started out as a drugs search.



"Whilst drugs weren't discovered, a very well-hidden and highly organised criminal enterprise was.



"The defendant was motivated by greed and broke the law to satisfy his lust for money.



"Economic crime, like forgery, has a huge impact on the community. It means a financial loss to consumers, potential danger to national economies and devalues real money."