Brighouse signwriter who sold counterfeit clothing on eBay must pay back nearly £50,000

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A Brighouse signwriter who was given a suspended jail sentence after trading standards officers uncovered his counterfeit clothing business has been told to repay nearly £50,000 under a proceeds of crime order.

Bradford Crown Court heard last September how private investigators working for trademark holders in the music industry alerted officers at West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service who carried out an inspection at Stephen Clarkson's premises on Grove Street.

During the search in January 2017 officers seized items of clothing bearing registered trademarks as well as a computer which had software on it which could be used to create and print off “heat transfers”.

They also found an email from another trader telling Clarkson that he was infringing copyright laws.

Clarkson, 36, of High Meadows, Greetland, pleaded guilty last August to 14 charges relating to the supply of hundreds of counterfeit band T-shirts for groups such as Motörhead, The Stone Roses, and Metallic.

The clothing also included bootleg items for American football teams such as the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.

Clarkson was sentenced to eight months in jail, suspended for two years and ordered to do 280 hours unpaid work for the community.

He was also told that he would face a further hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act and on Thursday he appeared at Bradford Crown Court again.

Prosecutor Michael Walsh told the Recorder of Bradford Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC that an investigation had resulted in an agreed benefit figure from criminal conduct of £49,198.14.

Mr Walsh said Clarkson had recoverable assets in the same sum and the judge said that the confiscation order should be paid in the next three months.

Clarkson was told that if he failed to pay the order he could face a sentence of nine months in prison in default.

At his sentence hearing last year the court heard that Clarkson had no previous convictions and Recorder Mark McKone said that meant he could suspend his eight-month jail term for two years.

"If you'd got a history of committing crime you would have been going to prison today, but I accept you are generally a hard-working man and you play an important part in the life of your wife and children," the judge told Clarkson.

He said he had read impressive references on behalf of Clarkson and he was confident he would not come back before the courts again.

"Some people, probably including you at the time, do not take seriously enough trademark offences," said the judge.

"As has been opened, in 2016 trademark offences cost the economy some 17 billion pounds. The offences damage legitimate businesses and ultimately can cost people their jobs."

Although the judge accepted that Clarkson was running a legitimate business he said for more than two years he had also been involved in printing illegal garments which he then sold on eBay.

The judge said Clarkson seemed to have continued the activity even after receiving the complaint about infringing copyright.

Recorder McKone said Clarkson would also have to do 280 hours unpaid work for the community as part of his sentence to reflect how close he had come to going immediately to custody.