Terry Lee Johns pleads guilty to fraud charges after counterfeit $50 notes handed over at Port Stephens stores

FAKE: A forged $50 note. Terry Johns pleaded guilty to using counterfeit cash. COUNTERFEIT $50 notes being passed at several stores at Lemon Tree Passage, Salamander Bay and the Maitland Show were such excellent forgeries that no one suspected a thing until Terry Lee Johns handed himself intoNelson Bay police station.

Johns, 41, of Shoal Bay, spent Monday night in Raymond Terrace police station cells after confessing to using the fake $50 notes to buy alcohol, soft drink andt-shirts from three stores at Port Stephens on Sunday as well as using six of the counterfeit notes at the Maitland Show on Saturday.

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And while his honesty and co-operation with police kept him locked up overnight, it could ultimately lead to him avoiding a full-time custodial sentence, solicitor James Janke told Magistrate Caleb Franklin in Raymond Terrace Local Court on Tuesday, despite Johns being both on bail and on a good behaviour bond at the time he committed the frauds.

Mr Janke submitted that Johns could be entitled to an Ellis Discount, a significant sentencing reduction only available when the offender voluntarily discloses a crime to the unknowing authorities.

That, combined with Johns’ guilty pleas on Tuesday to three counts ofdishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception, meant that a jail term wasn’t “fait accompli”, Mr Janke said.

Mr Franklin agreed and dismissed a prosecution detention application made after Johns admitted to breaching his bail for an alleged assault occasioning actual bodily harm and a good behaviour bond that was imposed last month.

Johns was granted strict conditional bail until he is sentenced inMay.

Johns told police he came into possession of the counterfeit currency after a “drug rip” netted 18 of the forged notes.

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He claims he was then blackmailed into using the notes and recouping legitimate currency by a group of people involved in the pending assault occasioning actual bodily harm charge and apprehended violence order.

They were once described as unforgeable, but these days ‘s polymer banknotes are under attack. is one of only four countries where counterfeiting rates are increasing and the $50 note is themost popular target for counterfeiters.

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