Council concludes successful prosecution

Jessica Chilton 29 from Brynithel was sentenced at Newport Magistrates Court on 22/03/24 after pleading guilty on 14/03/24 at Cwmbran Magistrates Court to 7 offences under section 92 of The Trade Marks Act 1994 relating to the sale and advertising of counterfeit goods.

Prosecutor Hayley Hawkins explained to the Court that Chilton had been investigated by Blaenau Gwent CBC Trading Standards Service after a complaint was received in October 2022 alleging that she was selling fake goods from her house and through Facebook. Trading standards investigations confirmed that she was advertising and selling a wide variety of counterfeit goods through her private Facebook page and also a private Facebook group named Affordable brands2. The goods advertised included electrical items such as lamps and hair straighteners as well as jewellery, clothing and earphones.

The Court was told that Chilton was advertising fake goods despite having received a warning visit from Trading Standards a year previously when a similar complaint had been received and it was explained that if she continued to sell it was likely to result in prosecution.

A warrant was executed on 03/11/22 at Chilton’s home address where considerable quantities of counterfeit clothing footwear and handbags were found ready to be sold to customers. Brands seized included Nike, adidas and Balenciaga trainers, Under Armour and North Face t shirts, Gucci and Chanel handbags.

Ms Chilton was represented by Joe Davies of Driscoll Young Solicitors who alleged that Chilton saw an opportunity on Facebook as a way of making money, a quick scheme to help keep the roof over her head. She accepted that there are other legitimate ways to obtain an income but didn’t truly understand the consequences of selling these goods online.

On sentencing the Magistrates stated that sale of counterfeit items is taken seriously when being distributed for personal gain as there is a need to protect both the public and manufacturers alike. They believed that Ms Chilton had an important role to play in the distribution of items and administration of the Affordable Brands 2 social media page despite a warning from the Council 12 month prior. The severity of the offences passed the custodial threshold but due to Ms Morgan’s previous good character and early guilty plea that Ms Chilton would be subject to a 12 month community order of 160 hours of unpaid work. She was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £114 and £3000 towards investigation costs.

The sale of fake goods through sites such as Facebook creates unfair competition to genuine businesses and causes damage to brand holders’ businesses, leading to loss of jobs in the industry. Many counterfeit goods such as perfumes, jewellery, electric items and toys can present a safety risk to the public as they have not undergone the vigorous safety checks that genuine products are subjected to during the manufacturing process. Trading Standards investigations serve to protect the public and legitimate businesses by ensuring that the fake products are removed from shopping sites and the sellers punished accordingly.