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A major counterfeiter from south east London has had assets totalling £142,000 confiscated, having already been jailed for related criminal activity.
Neil Anthony Norton, 42, from Bromley was sentenced to three years in prison in September 2008 by Blackfriars Crown Court for trading in a variety of counterfeit luxury consumer goods and manufacturing illegal copies of music film, games and computer software which he sold mainly via his own website and the internet.
Mr Norton’s home address was raided by officers from Lewisham Council, assisted by representatives from the Federation against Copyright Theft (FACT), BPI (formerly known as the British Phonographic Industry) and officers from Bromley police. His home contained all the equipment necessary to operate on a large commercial scale, as well as large quantities of counterfeit goods and cash.
An extensive investigation followed to determine Norton’s turnover from his counterfeiting operation.
At the confiscation hearing which took place on 13 August 2009 at Blackfriars Crown Court, the court was told that Mr Norton had derived a total benefit of £500,000 from his criminal conduct. However, it was agreed between Lewisham Council and the defendant’s lawyer that a total of £142,108.04 was available for confiscation, which included hidden assets of £25,000. His available assets included vehicles, cash, and the net proceeds of the sale of his home.
Mr Norton is required to pay the full £142,108.04 within 12 months. Failure to do so will mean he will have to serve an additional two and half years in jail.
The Court also ordered that all the property seized during the raid should be destroyed. The items include a vast quantity of computer equipment and thousands of counterfeit items.
Councillor Susan Wise said: “Lewisham Council takes this type of crime very seriously and will always prosecute counterfeiters where possible. This case in particular demonstrates the severe penalties that can be imposed by courts on counterfeiters. People who undertake this activity should be aware that they face losing their profits and any assets gained from them, including their homes. It just goes to show that crime of this type really doesn’t pay.”
Kieron Sharp, FACT Director General, added: “Criminals have been operating counterfeiting businesses with impunity for too long. This case and others show that they can be hit hard with the double whammy of a jail sentence and forfeiture of assets, making this type of crime far less attractive and thus a substantial deterrent to others. The impact of counterfeiting is severe; the livelihoods of the many people who work in the film, TV and retail industries in the UK are under threat from the theft of movies and programmes.”
David Wood, Director of BPI Anti Piracy Unit, stated: “This is a fantastic result. Music piracy is not a victimless crime as few musicians are wealthy and rely on the income from music sales and the investment record companies make in them to earn a living. Everyone deserves to be paid for their work.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Lewisham Council for being so proactive in tackling this type of crime and I hope this a clear deterrent to those who still seek to earn an illegal living from trading in counterfeit discs.”