A Cullybackey woman, who pleaded guilty to fraud which involved putting an advertisement on Facebook selling tokens for Barry’s Amusements in Portrush, was given a suspended jail term on Thursday.
Leanne Hoey (45), with an address at Markstown Grove, admitted posting an ad on social media seeking to sell Barry’s tokens.
The defendant, who had a previous record, appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court where she was given a three months jail term, suspended for 18 months.
She admitted a charge of ‘possessing articles in connection with fraud’. The particulars of the charge were that on July 6, 2017, she had in her possession or under her control ‘tokens for Barry’s Amusements, Portrush, for use in the course of or in connection with a fraud’.
The court heard how a member of staff from Barry’s Amusements in Portrush contacted police to say he had been notified that a Facebook advert had been placed by someone offering 50 of the amusement tokens for £15.
The court was told the tokens retail in Barry’s for 50p each.
When police searched the defendant’s house they found a bag of 500 tokens.
They believed she had sold a few hundred tokens and 23 tokens were retrieved from her car.
Prosecution successfully applied for a compensation order of £111.
District Judge Peter King asked where Hoey had obtained the tokens and if they were genuine.
Prosecution counsel said that they were genuine and during interview Hoey said someone had “offered them to me for cheap”.
Prosecution continued that it was unclear if the tokens had been got from Barry’s or before they got to Barry’s. The defendant, the lawyer said, had a fair idea they were stolen and sold them. There was no more information than that, the prosecutor concluded.
Defence counsel said that the defendant accepted that this was an unsophisticated scheme, even using her own Facebook account to advertise their sale.
She made a full admission at interview, counsel added.
Judge King noted that there had been convictions for “not dissimilar offences” several years ago.
He told Hoey: “You were always going to get caught, they were always going to go to police, you were always going to end up on court. I am happy to put this down to rank stupidity.”
Said the judge: “If it looks too good to be true, then it is too good to be true. Businesses need to be protected. It was on the cusp of the season, any suggestion that there was a trade in tokens would have undermined the business”.