A BUILDER turned an upper floor of his home into a “shop floor” for the sale of counterfeit goods which he advertised through Facebook.
Bogus Ugg boots, Adidas tracksuits, Tiffany and Co jewellery and Mulberry handbags were among the 400 items seized when trading standards officers raided the then home of Gavin Brammah in Northgate, Huddersfield, last year.
At the time they executed a search warrant on the afternoon of March 2, he was even holding a clothing party with about 30 people present.
James Lake, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court yesterday it was readily apparent from Brammah’s Facebook profile that it had been set up to commercially supply counterfeit goods and showed different types of clothing, footwear and handbags he was selling.
He had over 1,000 “friends” listed and there was an invitation to the party on March 2 at his home.
Mr Lake told the court the officers found the top floor had been turned into a shop for the goods, laid out “like a warehouse.”
More than 400 items were seized, of which only two Barbour jackets proved to be genuine. The items also included Louis Vuitton and Vivienne Westwood labels.
There were 37 brand names which were counterfeit which, had they been genuine, would have sold for £31,650.
Mr Lake said those buying clearly knew they were getting counterfeit goods.
“The prosecution submit this was clearly a commercial operation designed to make a very high level of profit,” he added.
Mark Brookes, representing Brammah, said it was the first time his client had been in trouble. He was a single man who had the care of his two-year-old daughter.
Brammah, 35, of Green Lane, Meltham, admitted 24 charges of offering for sale counterfeit goods and asked for 22 other offences to be taken into consideration.
He was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years, with 200 hours of unpaid work and a two-month curfew from 7pm to 7am each night. He was also ordered to pay £750 prosecution costs.
Recorder Andrew Dallas told him: “You were supplementing your income as a builder by an extensive operation marketing counterfeit goods through Facebook.
“I have seen from the photographs the top floor was laid out with an extensive array of goods, clothing, footwear, make-up, candles, handbags, jewellery and perfume with no less than 37 brand names and all but two of these items were counterfeit.”
The judge said he was only able to suspended the sentence after considerable thought “first because you are of previous good character and secondly because the crown concede this case does not have the additional aggravating feature that you were conning the public as well as defrauding the owners of these brands.”
He said he also bore in mind Brammah’s responsibility to his three children, two of whom live with his former partner.
Graham Hebblethwaite, West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service’s Chief Officer said: “Social media such as Facebook is becoming more prevalent in the buying and selling of counterfeit goods, as the illegal activity moves away from the high street and on to online outlets. This case shows that criminals cannot hide behind the blanket of social media.”
Clr Ros Lund, chairman of the Committee that oversees the work of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee, said: “Counterfeit goods are often poor quality and items such as electrical and cosmetic products can be dangerous.
“ If the goods fall apart consumers will not get refunded and because of this activity honest manufacturers and retailers lose millions of pounds each year and jobs are lost.
“If you suspect anyone of selling counterfeit goods, or want advice on goods you have bought, please get in touch through the Citizen’s Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506.”