Appeals court confirms forgery conviction, overturns recidivism charge

The man’s lawyer argued that the man had made the false banknotes to play Monopoly with his son

A court of appeal has reduced a prison sentence handed to a man convicted of forgery and of relapsing, noting that there was no record of when he had paid a traffic fine that was the basis of the recidivism charge.

Jonathan Farrugia had been charged with falsifying banknotes and the possession of falsified banknotes in 2013. He was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment.

Farrugia had filed an appeal through his lawyer, David Gatt.

The banknote had been colour-photocopied on A4 paper and was such a poor copy that it was immediately obvious to even an untrained eye that it was not genuine. Gatt argued that the photocopied banknote was a gross forgery that could not fool anyone and therefore not punishable.

Farrugia had told the police that he had made the copies with the intention of using them whilst playing the board game Monopoly with his son, some three years prior. There was no explanation as to how it had ended up in his coat pocket.

Gatt noted that recently, the courts had sentenced Ravi Kumar, an Indian man who was arrested at the airport and found to be carrying €116,200 in elaborately forged banknotes, to just 13 months’, which contrasted with the 18 months handed to Farrugia.

But the court of Criminal Appeal, presided by madame justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera, observed that the defence of gross forgery – falso grossolano – expressly did not apply to public documents, including banknotes. It confirmed the sentence with regard the forgery charge.

On the other hand, the court upheld the part of the appeal which dealt with recidivism, noting that he had been accused of it because of a traffic fine in 2011. “In the case at issue, nothing shows when the fine inflicted had been paid and therefore it cannot be said that the appellant completed his punishment. For this reason, the 10-year period [during which re-offending would result in recidivism] doesn’t apply and it can be said that the appellant is not a recidivist.”

The man’s punishment was subsequently decreased from 18 months to 14 months. Lawyer David Gatt was defence counsel.

More in Court & Police