A man who helped mastermind a failed bid to import 450,000 fake £1 coins into the UK from the Netherlands has been jailed.
Edward Magill conspired with lorry driver William Turnbull to bring the counterfeit currency into the country.
A Newcastle Crown Court trial heard how the coins had been manufactured illegally at the European Central Mint in Westpoort, Amsterdam.
The 55-year-old defendant, from Poyntzpass, Newry, Northern Ireland, had made arrangements for Mr Turnbull to pick them up in the Netherlands and transport them into the UK.
But the plot was foiled, jurors heard, when the driver’s flat-bed trailer was stopped by border control at the North Shields ferry terminal.
When officers searched the vehicle, they found three pallets, each filled with six barrels of metal car washers and fake coins hidden underneath, prosecutors said.
On Friday, Magill was convicted of conspiring to import fake currency into the country, and was handed a 50-month jail sentence, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.
Turnbull was handed a 20-month term for his role in the conspiracy following a separate trial in 2015.
During Magill’s trial, Ian Mullarkey, prosecuting, told jurors that the washers which officers found were “effectively a veneer, under which was a substantial quantity of counterfeit coins”.
Mr Mullarkey said that the defendant had been involved in arranging the collection of the fake money, while Mr Turnbull’s role was simply to collect and deliver it.
Mark Spoors, a branch commander with the NCA, said following the sentencing: “This has been a lengthy and complex investigation into a significant seizure involving a large quantity of high-quality fake coins.
“Those coins were destined for the pockets of unsuspecting members of the public across the UK.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Magill played a crucial role in this importation, he was the one in contact with the coin manufacturers in the Netherlands, and Turnbull was working on his behalf to bring them over.”