A MAN who passed two poor counterfeit £20 notes at shops in his home town in a four-day period was identified when in-store cctv was examined.

But a court was told Michael James Claydon’s activities have had a particular effect on one of the store assistants involved, as she has had to refund the £20 from her pay.

Claydon bought five £2 scratch cards and either cigarettes or tobacco using the forged notes at the Co-op, in Redworth Road, and at the Spar store, on Jubilee Road, Shildon, on January 2 and 6.

Durham Crown Court heard that on both occasions he left the premises without his change.

In between those crimes he also broke into a parked Kia Sportage in Albert Street, Shildon, late on January 4.

Chris Baker, prosecuting, said Claydon took clothing and cash to the value of £210 from the car.

But, when cctv covering the area was displayed on social media, Claydon was recognised, and comment was passed that he had been unsuccessfully trying to get a refund for the stolen clothing at a Next store.

Mr Baker said both shops highlighted the impact of such crime on their businesses, while the assistant who was presented with the note at the Spar, in line with what is thought to be store policy, had to refund the £20 from her wages.

Judge Jonathan Carroll asked if that was lawful, to which Mr Baker replied: “Whatever the rights and wrongs, that lady seems entirely blameless, yet she’s had to pay that money as a result of the defendant’s behaviour.”

Claydon, 27, of Dent Street, Shildon, made no reply to police questions, when interviewed.

But, he admitted two counts of passing counterfeit currency and one of theft from a motor vehicle when he appeared before magistrates the following day.

The crown court sentencing hearing was told his record of 33 convictions for 77 offences includes 47 for theft and similar crimes.

Mr Baker said Claydon’s most recently received an 18-week prison sentence for theft last August.

Paul Cross, mitigating, said: “There’s no getting away from it, he has a bad record and this is a matter which crosses the custody threshold.

“I understand the circulation of counterfeit notes undermines the system of currency.

“But these were particularly crude forgeries with Chinese writing on them.”

Passing sentence, Judge Jonathan Carroll told Claydon: “You have demonstrated you are willing to immerse yourself in a fundamentally dishonest life.

“Most directly affected here was the shop assistant who is being honest and ends having to ‘trouser up’ the money you effectively stole.

“That’s just monstrously unfair.

“Clearly you are known in the area as a local thief, that’s a reputation you have established for yourself.

“You knew exactly what you were doing in this case.”

Imposing a 12-month jail sentence for the counterfeit note offences, plus a month concurrent for the theft, Judge Carroll said, unusually in cases where defendants are sent to custody, he was adding a £20 compensation order to be paid to the shop assistant by August 30.