£180k Black Country Disney, One Direction and Justin Bieber fake goods racket smashed

An online fake goods factory run by a couple from their Black Country home in a £180,000 racket has been smashed.

£180k Black Country Disney, One Direction and Justin Bieber fake goods racket smashed

Joanne and Simon Geddes printed the logos of Disney, Hello Kitty, Justin Bieber and One Direction onto merchandise before flogging it on Amazon and eBay to unsuspecting customers.

The operation was run from the couple's Sedgley living room and Paypal payments of £180,000 passed through their bank.

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard that the pair had set up a legitimate enterprise called Baby Smiles to initially sell personalised gifts. They later offered T-shirts and gym bags with trademark logos downloaded from company websites without permission.

The images were transferred onto the items using heat presses that were also confiscated during a raid at their Eversley Grove home.

Prosecuting barrister Mr Mark Jackson told the court that Simon Geddes, 44, is an ex-Dudley Council IT worker and a laptop belonging to the authority was discovered in the haul. He had given it to his wife to run the business after 'marking' that it had been returned to a councillor who had given it in for repairs.

Mr Jackson said the crimes came to light after Newport City Council made test purchases of items from eBay. Inquiries led to Baby Smiles.

"At about the same time Dudley Council had a number of complaints about Baby Smiles' goods. The whole investigation was passed to Dudley Trading Standards. On November 22, 2012 officers with a search warrant went to the property," Mr Jackson said.

"A number of counterfeit items were seized and heavily packaged parcels ready to post were opened. Each had counterfeit goods inside."

Joanne Geddes, 42, previously admitted 23 offences relating to making and possessing items with intention to sell counterfeit goods, and one offence of money laundering between July 2011 and November 2012. Simon Geddes admitted 11 offences of aiding and abetting his wife to make counterfeit goods, and one offence of money laundering.

Solicitor advocate Mr Stephen Amblet, defending Joanne Geddes, a former bank worker, said the the pair had been naive.

"This business pays tax and is registered for VAT. The problem is that she did not know she was doing anything wrong or she would have checked," Mr Amblet said.

The court also heard the business www.babysmiles.co.uk is still trading, but in legitimate goods.

Ms Recorder Sandra Bristoll sentenced both to 15-month jail terms for each offence suspended for two years and 120 hours unpaid work. Joanne Geddes must serve a nine-month Supervision Order, and attend the Mariposa Project.

There was no separate penalty for money laundering.

A further 12 offences relating to Simon Geddes will lie on file.

Dudley Council's cabinet member for legal matters Councillor Rachel Harris said: "We take incidents of counterfeit goods being sold very seriously and work very hard to bring offenders to justice.

"We were made aware that one of our staff was involved in such activities in his own time and away from the workplace, and a full and thorough investigation took place. The former employee was dismissed as an ICT project manager in February 2013. The offences were dealt with at Wolverhampton Crown Court and we are pleased this matter has finally concluded."

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