A former small-time Sunderland drug dealer has narrowly escaped prison after trying to use a fake £20 note to buy drinks in Gatsby’s.
Kyle Levitt was arrested on June 11 after staff realised he had handed over a counterfeit note in the popular Derwent Street nightspot.
The 27-year-old immediately admitted that he was in possession of three fake £20 notes when interviewed by police.
Prosecutor Emma Dowling said that Levitt, of Hall Farm Road, told police he had been given the £60 by somebody who owed him and he knew they were not
She said: “He claimed he was drunk and thought he would try and use them in Gatsby’s.
“He said in the police interview with great insight that he knows that he had been very stupid.
“This is the first offence of counterfeit currency but he has a record which includes supplying class C and class B drugs to others.
“He also has convictions of simply possessing the same types of drugs.
“At the time he was subject to a conditional discharge for possessing mephedrone and was also subject to a community order which was imposed by this Crown Court for conspiracy to supply class B drugs.”
Ms Dowling added that she did not believe he had intended to supply a substantial quantity but one of the drugs was Ketamine.
She added: “I think it is generally accepted that this offence crosses the custody threshold as it strikes the root of our financial system that these notes are in circulation.”
Shaun Routledge, defending, told Mr Recorder Tahir Khan that Levitt had immediately made admissions of guilt at the police station after his arrest but accepted: “That this crosses the custody threshold, I cannot argue.”
He added: “He was honest in his interview when he said that somebody owed him £60 and he was aware that they were counterfeit.
“When he was outside of the bar with a friend he was overheard talking by a doorman.
“He gave his friend a genuine £20 note to go and buy drinks.
“I respectfully submit there’s a lack of sophistication here but he did not want to get anyone else into trouble.”
Mr Routledge told the court that Levitt was “a long way away” from the source of the counterfeit notes.
He added: “The last time he was in trouble was when he was given the community order in June 2015 and the probation service say that he was completed the hours of unpaid work.
“He has a young son who he sees every Sunday but now he is facing a custodial sentence.
“I urge your honour that the sentence can be suspended in this particular instance.”
Mr Recorder Khan told Levitt, a one-time promising boxer: “I take into account in addition the fact that you have been entirely cooperative following your arrest.
“You are a man who has been before the courts on several occasions and this offence was committed while you were subject of a community order and a conditional discharge.”
Mr Recorder Khan added that although the court regards possessing counterfeit currency to be serious in its own right, he accepted that the circumstances in which Levitt came to have the notes, “did not suggest any sophistication”.
He gave Levitt credit for complying with the community order he received last year and completing the 150 hours of unpaid work which was handed to him, his early guilty plea for this offence and obvious remorse shown to police.
Mr Recorder Khan sentenced Levitt to 14 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and 130 hours unpaid work in the community.
He said: “All of these factors justify me taking a course which doesn’t require you to go into custody today.”