BELFAST, Ireland – Two Zimbabwean men discovered in a north Belfast flat, which was being used as a counterfeiting factory, have been jailed for their roles in the enterprise.
The factory was capable of producing fake cheques, bank and credit cards which had either been previously lost, stolen, or not taken from the post.
Judge Donna McColgan QC told Geshem Madukae, 39, and Charles Moyo, 50that she had concluded “this was a sophisticated and organised criminal endeavour for financial gain. It would be naive to consider is it anything other than that.”
Moyo, from Lisnagarvey Drive in Lisburn, was handed a two year sentence and he will spend 12 months in custody with the remaining 12 months of the sentence spent on supervised licence upon his release from custody.
Co-accused Madzukae from Cliftonville Avenue – who has a previous conviction for fraud – was handed a three year sentence.
He will spend half the sentence in prison and the other half on supervised licence.
Belfast Crown Court had heard that the pair, who admitted receiving stolen goods, and possessing articles in connection with fraud, were arrested during a planned police search of the Cliftonville Avenue flat they both shared, on 29 November 2012.
At an earlier hearing, prosecutor Tessa Kitson said given the quantity of items found in the flat, including each of the two bedrooms of Madukae and Moyo, what was going on was quite a sophisticated operation and clearly both men knew what they were involved in.
The counterfeiting operation, she added, was not simply opportunistic, but had been “well planned, well set up, and well executed.”
Ms Kitson said the pair had named another man who they said owned all the materials in the flat, which they claimed, they had innocently touched whilst cleaning the apartment.
However, police managed to trace an individual to England, through two mobile owned by Moyo, who was already in prison on unrelated matters.
Cell site analysis of his phone revealed that he had not been in Belfast.
Moyo accepted that he owned some of the computer equipment, the mobile phones and memory sticks and a key pad, some of which was also discovered in his 3 series BMW parked outside the flat.
Solicitor advocate, Johnny Burke said that there was “absolutely no evidence that they were either at the head of any organisation or even at the bottom”.
Both men, he added, by their guilty pleas had “avoided what would have been a very complex case”, and that there was no suggestion either gained financially from the operation.
Moyo, a father of three, he said, had met matters fairly and squarely, even disclosing to authorities a minor motoring conviction.
The lawyer said his client had first lived and worked in England before coming to Ireland where he “met this man”, and moved into the flat, and “aware of what was going on, stupidly got involved”.
Barrister Richard McConkey for Madukae accepted that there were a number of aggravating features to the case, including his previous convictions.
He added that although living in the flat, the property was not his, and since his arrest has spent the last 16 months in custody.
Mr McConkey said that Madukae had come to the UK from Zimbabwe and had made an application for asylum.
The lawyer added that while his family were successful in securing asylum, a decision has still to be made in his case.
Passing sentence, Judge McColgan said: “Credit card fraud is rife and is causes massive losses and undermines public confidence in the system.” -Irish Mirror