'Pitman Painter' fraudster jailed

Richard Pearson from Sunderland has been jailed for over three years for fraud and forgery Credit: Northumbria Police

A Sunderland man has been jailed for over three years for selling fake paintings from the 'pitman painter' Norman Cornish.

Richard Pearson, 56 passed off 14 drawings and pictures to an art gallery in Corbridge, leaving it more than £50,000 out of pocket.

Cornish who died in August 2014 was an artist well known for paintings of life in North East pit villages.


Pearson was caught making a "school boy error" when he used post- decimalisation prices on the fake receipt he claimed was from the 1960's.

Prosecutor Mark Giuliani said: "What was instantly and readily apparent was rather than being in pounds, shillings and pence it was in decimal pounds and pence.

The telephone number he used was also too long to be real."

Four of the fakes were sold on to private collectors, who the gallery has since had to refund.

Previously Pearson pleaded guilty to nine charges of fraud, two of forgery and two of using a false instrument with intent between December 2011 and February 2014.

Judge Edward Bindloss who jailed Pearson for three years and seven months said: "Theywere "convincing fakes" and had caused confidence in the art market todiminish."

The family of Mr Cornish were present in court and in a pre-prepared statement said they hoped this conviction and the destruction of the fakes would restore confidence within the market.