A former company director has been fined £255 and ordered to pay £909 costs for selling counterfeit polo shirts to fund his son through private school.
Father-of-three Steven Cowperthwaite, 36, of Shaw Lane, Nether Kellet, Carnforth, appeared at Lancaster Magistrates Court where he admitted four counts of selling fake Ralph Lauren shirts.
He was caught when React Services UK - trade mark representatives - identified him as a trader infringing their products, and referred the case to Lancashire Trading Standards.
Prosecuting, Nick McNamara told the court between May and December 2012 three test purchases of counterfeit shirts were made from his e-Bay page.
Officers raided his home in January and seized three counterfeit shirts, which were being sold for £25.60 - compared to a high street retail price of up to £60.
He said: “When interviewed he told officers he had been selling Ralph Lauren shirts on e-Bay for 12 months and had not been aware the shirts were counterfeit. He said that he had sourced a supplier in China to whom he paid just £8 for each shirt.
“He admitted between June and August 2012 he was notified that four consignments of shirts had been impounded by customs for being counterfeit. Asked what action he had taken following receipt of these notifications he said that he had raised matters with his Chinese supplier who had reassured him that everything was all right.
“He accepted he could have contacted the authors of the notifications, React UK, to ask them for advice, but had chosen not to do so. He admitted he had been stupid and should have stopped but he kept on selling so he could pay his son’s private school fees.”
His defence solicitor said before the offences Cowperthwaite invested in a business that failed and left him in debt. He was “apologetic and ashamed”.