A FRAUDSTER who crashed his criminally-converted car while being chased by the sons of a man he is believed to have given fake banknotes to has been given another chance by a judge.

Preston Crown Court heard that Valeen Barkat was one of three men in a car in Accrington on February 6, 2018 when victim Mohammed Saeed was given 20 fake £20 notes for a gold iPhone 6S he had been advertising on Gumtree.

Prosecuting, Joe Allman said when Mr Saeed’s sons, Bilal and Sufyan, discovered the notes were fakes they conceived a plan to recover the money and to confront Barkat and his accomplices who had tricked their father.

Having telephoned the number for one of the men who had ripped off their father under the pretence of selling him another iPhone, they later got a call from a second number agreeing to pay £180 for the handset.

They arranged to meet the prospective buyer at Mount Trinity, Blackburn, at 7.20pm the following day to complete the transaction. Mr Allman said the brothers turned up at 7.10pm in separate cars, each with a friend, and waited for Barkat to arrive.

He said: “A black Volkswagen Golf arrived. Bilal approached the car and spoke to the driver through the window. There was also a passenger in the car.

“Bilal asked him if he could speak to him about what had happened the previous day and at that point the car sped away, pursued by Sufyan’s car.

“It came to a halt only when it collided with a metal barrier in Primrose Bank and bounced across the road, as witnessed by passer-by David Smith.

“Bilal, Sufyan and their friends arrived shortly afterwards and Mr Barkat emerged from the car but was quickly surrounded by the group. They were hostile towards him to the extent that Mr Smith felt the need to intervene on Mr Barkat’s behalf.

“The police duly arrived, Mr Barkat was arrested and hanging out of an interior trim in the driver’s footwell the police discovered a further 52 counterfeit notes. The car also had a feature whereby a button near to the steering wheel would, if pressed, cause a cover to come down over the rear registration plate.”

Police also found a small amount of cannabis in the car.

When officers searched 28-year-old Barkat’s address in Claret Street, Accrington, they found £3,480 in legitimate cash as well as a small amount of cannabis.

Barkat denied having anything to do with the counterfeit cash or the transaction with Mr Saeed, but pleaded guilty to possession with intent of 62 counterfeit notes when his DNA was tied to forgeries found in the car.

Mr Allman said counterfeit notes totalled £1,240 and Barkat committed this offence while on crown court bail for an unrelated dangerous driving matter.

Defending, Saleena Mahmood said her client had fallen in with a bad crowd at the time the offence was committed but had since turned his life around and had been a law-abiding citizen for two years in full-time employment. She said Barkat was the sole carer for his sick mother and was looking forward to an arranged marriage.

She said: “The commission of this offence has been a real eye-opener for Mr Barkat, not least the situation he found himself in when he was pursued in the car.

“But he was then left by the associate who had encouraged him to pass the notes and confronted with some hostility, understandably, by members of the public and he sons of the complainant.

“That caused Mr Barkat to, openly and without fear, confront his behaviour and understand the consequences of his actions.

“That spurred him on to stay out of trouble, to gain meaningful paid employment and to prioritise the care of his elderly and sick mother.”

Sentencing Barkat to 10 months imprisonment, but suspending it for two years, Judge James Medland QC said: “The most likely sentence in cases of this nature is one of immediate imprisonment. It being a matter of public policy that those who put around fake currency go to prison as a punishment and a deterrent.

“Had there not been such an inordinate delay in this matter in actually bringing you to court then in a few moments you would be going down the steps into custody.” Barkat was ordered to complete 150 hours’ unpaid work.