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Richard Pearson, 56, had pleaded guilty in November to nine charges of fraud, two of forgery and two of using a false instrument with intent between December 2011 and February 2014.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that Pearson had sold 14 drawings and paintings, purporting to be by the ‘pitman painter’, to a gallery in Corbridge for a total of £52,500.

He forged 1960s receipts from Cornish’s former dealer The Stone Gallery – although his use of decimal currency rather than pounds shillings and pence was to lead to his detection.

Norman Cornish’s son-in-law, Michael Thornton, read a statement in court on behalf of the family. He said they monitor the sales of his artwork throughout the world and are always on the lookout for fakes and forgeries.

He said: “On behalf of the Cornish family, we welcome today’s sentence and feel that the outcome should serve as a warning to other forgers and fraudsters. The forged material will be destroyed, ensuring complete confidence within the art market for collectors, dealers and auctioneers.”