A MAN has pleaded guilty to selling fake artwork he said was by acclaimed colliery artist Norman Cornish for which he pocketed around £35,000.

Richard Pearson, 56, admitted nine counts of fraud, two counts of forgery and two counts of using a false instrument with intent when he appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on Tuesday.

The nine fraud charges date between December 2011 and March 2013 and relate to Pearson making a false representation that he was in possession of a genuine work of art by Norman Cornish and wished to sell it on behalf of a member of the Cornish family.

The Northern Echo:

Norman Cornish in his studio surrounded by genuine works of art

The defendant, of Thomas Street, Sunderland, had also made counterfeit receipts from the Stone Gallery, understood to have been an established gallery in Newcastle in around the 1960s.

These were then used to deceive a victim into accepting art work as genuine.

Paul Currer, for Pearson, told the court around £35,000 was benefitted by the fraud.

He said the defendant had failed to attend a hearing last week as he was admitted to hospital, adding that his health had "deteriorated to a significant degree" due to diabetes and heart problems while he had also had his gallbladder removed during the case's proceedings.

The Northern Echo:

The Pit Road by Norman Cornish

Mr Currer requested a three-month adjournment to allow time for Pearson to raise enough funds in order to be in a position to pay compensation.

However, Judge Stephen Earl adjourned the case for nine weeks, adding: "My concern is that he (Pearson) will draw something in the meantime and I don't mean his pension.

"If he has proper streams at that point come back and ask for more time, if he has evidence, otherwise we will move to a sentence."

The case was adjourned until January 24 when the defendant is due to appear again at Newcastle Crown Court.

A full pre-sentence report was ordered by Judge Earl.

A coalminer for 33 years, Norman Cornish developed his talent at the groundbreaking Pitman’s Academy art school at The Spennymoor Settlement earned national recognition for his depictions of everyday life in the North during his lifetime.

His images continue to attract the attention of art enthusiasts and are often on display in galleries and exhibitions to this day.

He died at the age of 94 in August 2014.