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Thursday 15 January 2015

Fake goods dealer told: pay up or go to jail


An online dealer in fake goods, who was brought to justice by Cheshire East Council, has been told to hand over nearly £30,000 or face a jail term.

Noel Hitchen ran a company called Xtra Funky Limited, which sold mobile phone covers and other accessories through various websites.

Many of these items carried unlicensed trade marks belonging to Hello Kitty, Disney, and football clubs including Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Last April, Crewe Magistrates’ Court imposed a two-year conditional discharge on Hitchen and his wife Stephanie, of Rimmer Grove, Elworth, Sandbach, after they admitted possessing and selling counterfeit goods.

Large quantities of illegal goods were seized from the Hitchens’ previous address in Crewe and from a nearby storage facility and have since been destroyed.

Cheshire East Trading Standards, which brought the prosecution, then launched a financial investigation which led to a proceeds of crime confiscation hearing at Chester Crown Court on January 14, 2015.

Hitchen was given six months to pay a total of £29,105.36 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 or face a default sentence of 12 months. He was also ordered to pay costs of £12,894.64 within two months.

Councillor Les Gilbert, Cheshire East’s Cabinet member for localism and enforcement, said: “Counterfeit goods cheat members of the public who hand over their money expecting a good quality product. Fakes are almost always inferior or dangerous.

“In this case, Cheshire East Trading Standards has worked hard to ensure that the offenders do not benefit financially from their crimes.

“Confiscation under the Proceeds of Crime Act is an extremely powerful law enforcement tool because it takes the profit out of crime and acts as a strong deterrent to others.

“Some criminals treat imprisonment and fines as a cost of doing business. They expect to emerge from jail with a swagger knowing they can enjoy their ill-gotten gains.  

“The confiscation process shatters this image and sends a clear message that crime does not pay.”

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