Two men caught selling counterfeit clothing at a Kent market have been given suspended prison sentences, following an investigation by KCC Trading Standards.
Blaine Boon and Jagdish Naran were sentenced to six months, suspended for 18 months, plus a community service order of 140 hours unpaid work. A third man, Ricky Hirani, was sentenced to 120 hours of unpaid work. All three defendants had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of selling counterfeit clothing and 13 counts of being in possession of counterfeit clothing.
The defendants came to the attention of Trading Standards when undercover officers saw them selling fake designer clothes near a Sunday market in Leysdown.
In April 2017, officers conducted a covert visit to a large stall operated by the defendants who were selling branded clothing, trainers, belts, handbags and sunglasses. An officer purchased a pair of trainers branded with the Nike logo for £25, and these were later confirmed as counterfeit.
Further targeted visits took place in June when officers gathered more evidence of the suspect stall. The officers again witnessed the stall selling sunglasses, trainers, t-shirts, trousers and shorts with the defendants present again.
On 9 July 2017, a number of Trading Standards officers, Kent Police and representatives of the Anti-Counterfeiting Group targeted the defendants. On this occasion there was a long table promoting the sale of trainers and other clothing. In addition, there were two full clothes rails and at one end of the table were sunglasses and hats.
By time the officers arrived, Boon, from Luton, Bedfordshire, had left the stall and Hirani, from Harrow, and Naran, from Leicester, claimed they were minding the stall and did not own it. Police officers later tracked down Boon who had remained in the area.
A total of 1,276 items were seized with an estimated loss to the industry, based upon how much the genuine goods of these brands would have been worth if sold legitimately of £84,800. The items breached the rights of 21 trademarks holders. They were variously described by brand representatives as:
- Being of visibly poor-quality materials, with misaligned stitching, smudged branding;
- Poor quality manufacturing and packaging presentation;
- Inferior quality, not the type of fabric used, and the logo type, detail, definition and application are incorrect;
- The packaging was of poor quality,
- The shoe exhibits were not in branded boxes, as genuine ones are;
- The sunglasses had a lower grade plastic than genuine ones and it was not possible to verify whether the sunglasses complied with the essential requirements of relevant European health, safety and environmental protection; and
- Poor quality plastic frames.
The judge said there was insufficient evidence to distinguish between Boon and Naran but that their involvement crossed the custody threshold. Hirani was involved to a lower level than the others, showing naivety. He said this was not casual offending but an organised crime where significant profits were made by the defendants.
Clive Phillips, Operations Manager for Complex Investigations at Kent Trading Standards said: “These suspects openly peddled their illegal products. Although their customers could be forgiven for getting what they felt was a good deal, these products were proved to be inferior.
“The proceeds of counterfeit goods funds organised criminal gangs and we would ask members of the public to avoid dealing with these types of businesses. We will continue to work with brand holders and enforcement partners in stamping out this illegal activity.”
Mike Hill, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, said: “This is a really positive result for local legitimate businesses as the sale of counterfeit goods undermines local economies. We will take appropriate and proportionate action against those serious and persistent offenders who operate outside the law.”