Northern Ireland news

Portadown man (45) jailed for a year for role in a "systemic organised operation'' to sell £75,000 counterfeit designer goods

The Belfast Recorder ordered a destruction of all the fake goods

A 45-year-old man has been jailed for 12 months for his role in a "systemic organised operation'' to sell counterfeit designer goods worth £75,000.

Nawaz Ashraf, of Parkmore, Craigavon, Co Armagh, was told by a judge that he was sending him to prison as he had previous convictions for similar offences dating back 20 years.

Ashraf pleaed guilty at Belfast Crown Court to 13 counts of trading in counterfeit products and one charge of possessing criminal property.

His father Mohammed Ashraf (68), and his cousin Mohammed Waseem, (28), both of Cranny Road, Portadown, pleaded guilty to the same charges but were spared prison, receiving 12-month sentences suspended for two years.

Police searched two residential properties at Cranny Road, Portadown and a business address at Dargan Crescent in Belfast belong to Clothing Concept Ltd run by Mohammed Waseem.

Officers seized counterfeit Nike, Adidas, Jack Wills, Louis Vuitton, Timberland, Chanel and Diesel clothing, footwear and handbags valued at £75,000.

Judge David McFarland heard that police also recovered almost £24,000 in cash and over €5,000.

Police also recovered fake badges belonging to designer Michael Kors which could be "stuck onto'' handbags or purses.

The prosecution branded the activities of the three accused as a "systemic organised operation'', and said the aggravating factors in the case were Nawaz Ashraf's four previous convictions for his involvement in the sale of countefeit goods and also the value of the goods.

Defence barrister Seamus Lannon said he was making a "mercy submission'' to the court not to send Nawaz Ashraf to prison as he was a carer for his brother, asking the court for "one final opportunity to put his house in order and to keep his house in order".'

Judge McFarland said he was suspending the sentences for Mohammed Ashraf and Mohammed Waseem, warning them not to commit any further offences in the next two years or risk going to prison.

He told Nawaz Ashraf: "You have been convicted of similar offences in the past and you have received penalties such as a fine, suspended sentence, community service order and a three month prison sentence reduced on appeal.

"You have not taken the opportunity that was offered to you by the courts in the past and you have not learned the lesson that the courts were trying impart to you.''

The Belfast Recorder ordered a destruction of all the fake goods and adjourned confiscation proceedings until March 2019.

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