HMA v DARREN HANDREN

At the High Court in Edinburgh on 30 January 2015, Lady Wolffe sentenced Darren Handren to one year and eight months imprisonment after the accused pled guilty to being in possession of counterfeit money.

On sentencing, Lady Wolffe made the following statement in court:

“Darren Handren, you pled guilty to a charge of having counterfeit bank notes in your custody with a total face value of just under £10,000, contrary to section 16(1) of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981.

I have had regard to the terms of the Criminal Justice Social Work Report. It notes that your explanation was that you were persuaded to accept the bundle of notes in order to clear a drug debt. It is noted that you had your suspicions about the bundle you were asked to hold. The report narrates your personal circumstances: that you are in employment, in a stable relationship and that your disabled partner and your three children are dependent on you. It is pointed out that your offending behaviour occurred during a period when you had separated from your current partner. She continues to be supportive of you. You are in employment. In the light of these features, it is suggested that you have a lowered risk of offending.

I have also had regard to your several previous convictions. These disclose a prior conviction for an assault to injury in 2005. However, I also note that you have a conviction in 2013 for an analogous offence for forgery under the same Act, albeit not a breach of section 16. You also have two further convictions dating from mid 2013, namely under section 5(2) under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and for a statutory breach of the peace.

To date, you have not served a custodial sentence.

I have also had regard to all that has been said on your behalf in mitigation.  I note in particular, the age of the offending behaviour, the fact that you have been largely crime-free since then, the continuing support you have of your partner and the remorse you have exhibited. I have also had regard to the letters produced on your behalf from your current employers and also from health professionals in relation to problems members of your family faces.

I cannot but note that the crime to which you have pled has a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment although it does also provide for imposition of fines. You have some prior convictions including analogous offending, although the crime to which you have pled is more serious than the earlier one.

The crime to which you have pled guilty is a serious matter. It strikes at the integrity of normal every day transactions. Had the counterfeit notes found in your possession been introduced into circulation, the loss would have fallen on those who happened to have accepted these in good faith but who had the misfortune to retain these at the point their false character were ascertained. You knew these were counterfeit notes when you were asked to retain them. It is accepted on your behalf that you had the intention to pass these on. For whatever reason, you are the author of your own misfortune.

Having considered all of these matters, I am persuaded that there is no alternative to custody. I do have regard to your particular family circumstances. But for those circumstances, the starting point for the period of imprisonment I would have selected would have been greater.

As it is, I select a headline sentence of 30 months. I note that you tendered a plea on 15 August 2014, which was the first opportunity you had to do so. I will allow a discount of 10 months for that plea. Accordingly, the period of imprisonment I impose is one of 20 months, to commence from today’s date.”