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CITY COUNCIL SECURES£39,000 ORDER AGAINST COUNTERFEITER

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Assets Recovery Agency financial investigators, working in partnership with City of York Council trading standards,...
Assets Recovery Agency financial investigators, working in partnership with City of York Council trading standards, were successful in obtaining a Confiscation Order in the sum of£39,000 against James Joseph Waldron of Pontefract, West Yorkshire.

On 2 October 2004 an investigation was commenced by City of York Council trading standards department in relation to the sale of counterfeit goods at local car boot sales. Trading standards officers visited Knavesmire Car Boot Sale, York and were able to make a test purchase from Mr Waldron of items which were subsequently ascertained to be being counterfeit. The officers then proceeded to search his vehicle and recovered a large quantity of CDs, DVDs and computer games that were suspected of being counterfeit goods. A total of 452 counterfeit items were recovered on this occasion.

On 30 January 2005 trading standards officers visited Merton Road Car Boot sale, York. They discovered Mr Waldron in the vicinity selling counterfeit goods, namely DVDs, CDs and PlayStation games. On this occasion, trading standards officers recovered a total of 580 counterfeit items.

On 26 September 2005 at Selby Magistrates Court, Mr Waldron pleaded guilty to five specimen charges relating to the offences committed on 2nd October 2004 and a further five specimen charges in respect of those offences committed on 30th January 2005. He also accepted two schedules relating to 1,002 similar offences and asked for these matters to be taken into consideration.

On 5 December 2005, he appeared at Leeds Crown Court before he received a sentence of 12 months' imprisonment for each offence to run concurrently, with the 1,002 similar offences being taken into account. In passing sentence, HHJ Marson remarked that these were serious offences, and that the custody threshold had been crossed. However, Mr Waldron's medical circumstances were said to be exceptional in this case and accordingly the sentence was suspended for a period of two years, with a supervision order for one year. Confiscation proceedings were postponed to a later date.

HHJ Marson also commented on Mr Waldron's apparent lack of acknowledgement that there was a victim in this type of crime, and added that people who properly produced the legitimate products had a right to the money that is to be earned from that product.

On 13 February 2006 at Leeds Crown Court, the confiscation determination was heard by Mr Recorder Hedworth who certified that the benefit from criminal conduct in this case was£144,153.05, and taking into account the equity which may be realised from Mr Waldron's property, ordered him to pay£39,000 within a period of six months or serve a prison sentence of 18 months in default. Mr Waldron was further ordered to pay York City Council£500 towards the cost of the prosecution.

Jane Earl, director of the agency, said: 'This is an excellent result for the Assets Recovery Agency and York City Council, with whom we having been working on this case.

'Counterfeiters should take notice that we will work with other agencies to ensure they do not profit from their crime.'

Notes

1. The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 created the Assets Recovery Agency and provided completely new powers to allow ARA to seek a criminal confiscation or civil recovery of the proceeds of unlawful activity by an action in the Crown or High Court respectively. The agency can also issue tax assessments where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that there is taxable income, gain or profit from criminal conduct.

2. The agency is playing its part in the multi-agency approach to deliver the government's Asset Recovery Strategy. Under the cross government initiative 'Payback', the tracing of and recovery of assets is seen as an important element in the delivery of justice, and sends out a strong deterrent message. The overall aims of the strategy are to make greater use of the investigations of criminal assets in the fight against crime; recover money that has been made from crime or which is intended for use in crime; prevent criminals and their associates from laundering the proceeds of criminal conduct, and detect and penalise such laundering where it occurs; to use the proceeds recovered for the benefit of the community.

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