A market trader from Corby who taunted investigators has been jailed for 30 months for selling fake DVDs and CDs.
Andrew Thornton, 33, of Ibsen Walk, Corby, was sentenced at St Albans Crown Court on Tuesday, May 10, for the lucrative fraud which involved the manufacture, distribution and sale of counterfeit DVDs and CDs from two stalls at a market in Bovingdon, Hertfordshire.
During a three-year investigation up to June 2014, nearly 27,000 DVDs and CDs were seized by Herfordshire trading standards officers in numerous raids.
The court estimated the cost to legitimate industries of the counterfeit products to be more than £2m.
Following one arrest in November 2013, Thornton refused to comment when asked if he was aware it was a criminal office to sell counterfeit goods.
He was released and the next day posted on Facebook, referencing the Leonardo Di Caprio film Catch Me If You Can.
The judge, Her Honour Judge Marie Catterson, described this as noteworthy, telling Thornton, “it indicates your contemptuous attitude to the enforcement authorities and your total lack of remorse at that time.”
In mitigation, Thornton said his wife was expecting their fifth child, whose birth he will now miss, and in recent months he had begun a legitimate job.
Sentencing, the judge said that even without Thornton’s previous convictions as an aggravating factor the charges amounted to “flagrant criminality” requiring a custodial sentence.
She said: “I give credit for your recent legitimate employment, earning an honest living and doing well, which is a good sign for the future and will stand you in good stead, but this offending is far too serious to be dealt with in any other way that immediate custody.”
She then sentenced Thornton to 30 months, with half to be served in prison and half on licence.
Richard Thake from Hertfordshire County Council said: “This successful prosecution shows our commitment to fight against intellectual property crime and the sentence reflects the serious nature of the criminality involved.
“The public would have otherwise purchased DVDs and CDs from honest businesses who suffer when sales are lost to criminals involved in the fraudulent manufacture, distribution and retail of these illegal goods.
“We will always consider, where appropriate, applying for the confiscation of assets from criminals involved in such activity.”
Director general of the Federation Against Copyright Theft Kieron Sharp said: “Many people think copyright theft is a victimless crime and that buying a fake DVD or watching a film from a pirate site has no direct consequences. “However, this could not be any further from the truth.
“Not only does piracy starve the creative industries and UK economy of millions of pounds a year, but it also impacts on the livelihoods of thousands of people who support and work in the industry.”
Head of content protection for the British Phonographic Industry Tim Cooper said: “The large scale of Thornton’s counterfeit operation made the difficult trading conditions faced by so many entertainment high street outlets that much harder.
“When stores close not only do customers face greatly reduced choice, but the local economy and jobs suffer too, and, of course, the artists and companies that invest in creating great music and film go unrewarded also.
“So it’s vital we don’t underestimate the serious nature of this crime and the impact it has on people, nor the need to remain ever vigilant and determined to tackle it with all the resources available to us.”
A confiscation order to recover Thornton’s proceeds of crime will be considered at a hearing on August 12 at St Albans Crown Court.
Members of the public can report sales of counterfeit goods to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.
Businesses can contact our trading standards team on 01707 281401 for advice from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday or [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org|email|}.