A Rhondda couple who lost thousands of pounds trying to sell counterfeit goods also narrowly escaped prison following a prosecution by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.
Peter Worner, aged 28 and Nikki Barnes, aged 25 of Ynyswen Road, Treorchy pleaded guilty to 10 offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 at Merthyr Crown Court.
The offences related to possessing for control and supply counterfeit goods which were likely to be mistaken for a registered trade mark. In total 297 items were discovered at their property.
In November 2012 officers of the Council’s Trading Standards department attended the home address of defendants where a warrant of entry was being executed by South Wales Police.
A large quantity of branded items were seized, including audio equipment Beats by Dr Dre, along with UGG, Adidas and Superdry. These were later confirmed as counterfeit.
An investigation by Council officers discovered these items had been advertised for sale on internet auction sites and social media.
Merthyr Crown Court heard they had been struggling for cash in the run up to Christmas and chose to increase their funds by selling counterfeit items. They claimed it was cash motivated and they did not realise at the time the seriousness of the offending.
It was also stated that they had allegedly lost £2,000 in the counterfeit scam and admitted to it being a costly and stressful venture. They pledged to turn their lives around with the start of a tyre and recovery business.
Judge Tom Crowther said that it was a scheme started for selfish and commercial reasons but they had suffered loss instead of gain. He said their scheme was undermining the reputable name of genuine businesses as the trade marks they used reflect quality which would not be present in their items.
The matter was so serious that only custodial sentence would suffice but as they showed remorse and had turned their lives around the matter could be suspended.
Therefore Worner and Barnes were sentenced to four months imprisonment, suspended for two years; a supervision requirement for 12 months; 120 hours of voluntary work and a victim surcharge of £80.
All of the items seized from the property are subject to a deprivation order under Section 143 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act.
David Jones, Head of Community Protection at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said: “We remain committed to eradicating this type of criminal behaviour in the County Borough wherever possible.
“Our sustained, zero-tolerance campaign, which is based on vital information received from our communities and calls for action received from our residents, will continue. The current tough economic times means now, more than ever, people are looking for a bargain. Our strong advice to them is to steer clear of illegal designer goods offered for sale.
“They may think they are getting a bargain but are actually handing over their hard-earned money for items that are not what they seem, are not of the quality they purport to be and in some cases, particularly non-clothing items, may not actually meet strict safety standards needed.
“Counterfeit goods also damage the legitimate traders who work hard to stick to the rules as well as the brand holders who have invested in the design, marketing and distribution of their products.”