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Ceredigion couple face fines and forfeiture order for counterfeit clothing

Aberystwyth (Ceredigion)

A Ceredigion couple who sold counterfeit clothing, footwear, and fragrances on local online marketplaces on social media have been fined by Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court after an investigation by Ceredigion County Council’s Trading Standards Officers.

Peter Hinchen, 54, and Sharon Hopkins, 38, of Rhydlewis, appeared before Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 30 April 2024, where the pair pleaded guilty to four offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994.

The bench of Magistrates heard how officers from the Public Protection service observed allegedly counterfeit tracksuits, trainers, watches, jackets, and perfumes on local online marketplaces being advertised for sale by the pair.

Following a search warrant at their home during December 2021, officers seized 65 items of clothing, 19 pairs of trainers, four watches and 13 bottles of fragrance which were later confirmed as counterfeit by the trademark representatives for Nike, Adidas, The North Face, Ralph Lauren, POLO, Givenchy, Chelsea, Ben10, and Emporio Armani.

The couple were charged with jointly possessing and exposing for sale the counterfeit goods, but initially denied this when interviewed.

The Court was told that if the items had been authentic, their genuine retail value would have been £8,240. The Magistrates also heard that some of the clothing was for children and did not meet British safety standards due to the drawstring cords posing a choking hazard.

Councillor Matthew Vaux, Cabinet Member for Public Protection, warned residents to avoid sellers of counterfeit goods. He said: “Counterfeit goods do not meet the stringent safety requirements required of legitimate goods; they do not undergo any quality or safety testing, and consumers will not know how or where they are made. Not only do counterfeit goods pose a risk to buyers, they also undermine legitimate commerce in the County and further afield.”

The defence argued that Hinchen and Hopkins had had the goods from an undisclosed man in Llanelli to sell, but were only seeking to make a gain themselves by means of receiving free clothing for their children.

Aberystwyth Magistrates imposed a fine of £434 upon each of the defendants and granted a forfeiture and destruction order on the seized goods.