A mother-of-four who passed on counterfeit £20 notes was jailed today for four months.

A judge had suggested that sentence on Paula Dean could be postponed while enquiries were made about arrangements for her children, but Dean opted to be jailed immediately.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that she and a friend were in the Mecca bingo hall in Birkenhead on April 3 and they both separately went to money changers in the premises and each cashed two £20 notes for £1 coins.

When the notes were taken to the cashier he was suspicious about them and rightly suspected they were fakes, said Paul Blasbery, prosecuting.

The two women were questioned and police were called.

Dean said she obtained the notes from a cash machine and had lent her friend £40 of them.

34-year-old Dean, of Tapestry Gardens, Birkenhead, pleaded guilty to two charges involving delivering and tendering counterfeit notes. The court heard she has seven previous convictions, including fraud.

John Weate, defending urged the judge to suspend any prison sentence.

But Judge Denis Watson, QC, sent her to jail for four months after pointing out that such offences involving fake currency go to the heart of the country's economic system.