Three members of a counterfeit currency racket involved in the distribution of more than £135,000 worth of fake banknotes have been jailed.
James Brennan, 36, of Eastern Gardens, Ashford; Frazer North, 33, of Tillingbourne Green, Orpington; and Daniel Chapman, 42, of The Downage, Gravesend, all admitted their part in the conspiracy, which was investigated by specialist officers from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate.
Brennan was jailed for seven years and eight months when he appeared at Maidstone Crown Court for sentencing on Monday 5 June 2017, with North receiving a custodial sentence of four years and two months. Chapman will spend two years and eight months behind bars.
The offences first came to light on Sunday 10 July 2016 when police discovered £1,000 of forged £20 notes during a search of North’s home for an unrelated incident.
Further enquiries including an analysis of his mobile telephone linked him to Brennan and Chapman, with Chapman believed to have been responsible for obtaining the cash from an unknown third party.
During a search of Chapman’s home on Thursday 10 November 2016 officers discovered a further £40,000 worth of fake notes.
It is believed the group planned to sell each Bank of England note for between £2 and £5 each, and would only accept a minimum order of £1,000 in real cash.
All three men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deliver counterfeit currency when they appeared at Maidstone Crown Court on Tuesday 9 May 2017.
Brennan also admitted possession of a stun gun, two counts of offering to supply cannabis, and one count of producing cannabis.
Chapman further pleaded guilty to possession of criminal property and controlling counterfeit currency, while North admitted two counts of possession with intent to supply cannabis and one count of controlling counterfeit currency.
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There are calls for young people to receive more financial education, especially with the high levels of debt some students owe when leaving university - having taken out loans to pay for their £9,000 a year tuition fees.
Nearly half of all young people - now go on to higher education. If Labour or the Greens win the election next month university tuition fees of more than £9,000 will be scrapped.
Other parties propose to restore maintenance grants, waive repayments for teachers who stay in the profession or even just abolish tuition fees for certain subjects. However the reality is that tens of thousands of young people currently leave University with huge debts, of typically more than forty thousand pounds.
Student loans have been in the news headlines after the Labour Party released more details of its plans to scrap university tuition fees starting from September 2017, should the party win the General Election in June.
Meanwhile an ITV Meridian investigation reveals that the sum of debt owed by students could be a lot higher than they initially think - because of interest charges which start from the day the loan begins.
This is the first of two special reports from our Social Affairs Correspondent Christine Alsford.
The report contain interviews with: Estelle Clarke, campaigner and expert; Tom Woolf, Founder of EdAid; Jessie Hamil-Stewart, a first year student; and David Tyler, a Financial Advisor. There is also footage from a Student Loan information film.
Up to 600 new jobs are to be created on the Isle of Wight with the opening of a new customer service contact centre.
Staff at the site in Cowes will handle customer queries for the Scottish-based contact centre management specialist Ascensos which manages customer service enquiries for retail companies including Argos; BooHoo; B&Q; Coast; Game; Karen Millen; L.K.Bennett; Monsoon; Oasis; Warehouse; and Wickes.
Ascensos will invest more than £1 million and the Isle of Wight Council agreed to offer a capital investment of £2.1 million as well as a 10 year lease on the site in Cowes - subject to further legal discussions. The local authority has estimated that the business will contribute £35 million to the island's economy. Work to prepare the building will start straight away, and recruitment will also begin so that the business can open by the planned date of September 2017.
“This is a major strategic move for Ascensos, increasing our capacity by 30% and establishing our first UK facility outside Scotland. We’re excited to be coming to the Isle of Wight. The people, the financial assistance and the support in recruitment, training and development made for an unbeatable package.
“Ascensos is growing rapidly and we have become a force to be reckoned with in the UK contact centre sector. We’ve a reputation for doing things differently in this space and we look forward to opening Ascensos Isle of Wight after the summer.”
“We’re already in discussions with the DWP and Isle of Wight College and our recruitment campaign will get underway shortly. Ascensos is known as a great employer and we’ll be bringing the same approach to the Isle of Wight.”
“I am very excited that Ascensos has chosen the Isle of Wight as the location for its major UK expansion. The Island is already home to a number of major, global companies and is perfectly positioned to support the ambitions of Ascensos, with a motivated, skilled and enthusiastic local workforce.
"This move also promotes our ambitions of regeneration for the Island, to create a robust and dynamic local economy that will be sustainable now and in the long term for our future generations.”
The shareholders of Portsmouth Community Football Club have voted in favour of selling the club to the Tornante Group.
The Tornante Group is owned by the family of Michael Eisner, a former Chairman of the Walt Disney Company. 81.4% of the club's equity holders agreed to the sale, passing the threshold of 75%. Therefore talks to negotiate the final terms of the sale will go ahead over the coming weeks.
The Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne in Sussex has one of the most extensive collections in the South East. It houses more than 4,000 works of art and hosts more than 100,000 visitors annually.
However staff say that plans to halve the grant it receives from the local authority could jeopardise the Towner's future. The local authority - Eastbourne Borough Council, says that in harsh economic times it has to protect frontline public services. Malcolm Shaw reports.
The interviewees are Emma Morris from the Towner Art Gallery; Fred Dimbleby, a student journalist; and Elizabeth Muir Lewis from the Eastbourne Arts Circle.
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A warning is being sent to vulnerable people in West Sussex about a phone scam. Fraudsters pretending to be police officers claim victims' bank cards have been copied, with money needing to be withdrawn and given to a courier. One 85-year-old woman handed over £12,500.