A market trader who was sent to prison for selling fake DVDs and CDs will have to pay back the proceeds of his crime.
Andrew Thornton, 33, of Ibsen Walk, Corby, was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment on May 10 for participating in a lucrative fraud, which involved the manufacture, distribution and sale of counterfeit DVDs and CDs from two stalls at the Bovingdon Saturday market.
This followed a successful prosecution by Hertfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service.
During a three-year investigation up to June 2014, nearly 27,000 DVDs and CDs were seized by trading standards officers in numerous raids.
On October 10, a full contested hearing decided that Thornton, who was brought to the proceedings from prison, was liable to the confiscation of assets worth £60,000 after determining that he had hidden these assets.
The judge believed that he had not told the truth about the money he had taken out of his counterfeit disc business.
It was also determined that there is the potential to recover up to £560,000 if he were to come into money in the future.
Explaining his decision, His Honour Judge Plumstead said that it was a laughable proposition that Thornton had, as he claimed, only taken £200 per week out of the business for himself and was not persuaded on a balance of probabilities that he had frittered away an estimated £90,000 per annum income gained over three years.
He pointed to hard evidence of a text message from April 2015, which Trading Standards authorities had obtained, in which Thornton confided to a fellow criminal in his counterfeit disc business that he had hidden money away.
Thornton claimed the text was a joke but Judge Plumstead did not accept this.
He was sure Thornton had spent the majority and had either stashed away or loaned out the rest.
He said he was a dishonest man who had not paid his debts.
Thornton has three months to pay the full £60,000.
It will be possible for him to seek a further three months to pay, but no further extensions beyond that are permitted.
The default sentence in the event of non-payment is a further 12 months imprisonment.
In mitigation, he told the court that since his sentencing he had sorted his life out, but his wife was struggling to pay the bills and he was now £40,000 in debt.
Richard Thake, cabinet member for community safety, said: “The sale of counterfeit goods damages the whole community and it is important that these criminals do not profit from their crimes.
“The decision by the court follows a successful prosecution by Hertfordshire Trading Standards which shows our commitment to fight against intellectual property crime and the sentence reflects the serious nature of the criminality involved.
“We will always consider, where appropriate, applying for the confiscation of assets from criminals.
“This this serves as a further deterrent in addition to the prosecution sentence to others contemplating engaging in illegal activity.”