Dad turned to piracy to pay off loan sharks

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A man who ran a pirate DVD factory from his house in a bid to pay off loan sharks has been given a suspended jail term.

Dad-of-three Kevin Morris, 30, of Ullswater Road, Chorley, received 12 weeks suspended for 18 months and 100 hours unpaid work after pleading guilty to 13 charges.

Some relate to trademark crimes against film firms such as Universal, Paramount and Disney and others concern converted computer equipment used to manufacture the fake discs and their artwork.

During his sentencing at Chorley Magistrates Court, the bench heard he bragged on his Facebook page he had sold 200 copies of the latest Spiderman and Monster Inc films in just 24 hours.

On another he offered nine blockbuster films for sale for £15. In June last year officers carried out a test purchase and later raided his home, seizing discs and equipment, which contained artwork and lists of film and album titles and prices. Despite this, in August he was caught selling on Facebook again.

Prosecuting for Lancashire Trading Standards, Nick McNamara said: “Recently Trading Standards officers have seen a trend of counterfeiters turning to Facebook to advertise and sell their wares.

“To criminals, Facebook offers a number of advantages over more traditional means because unlike market stalls and e-Bay there’s little official scrutiny given.

“It’s down in no small part to the fact criminals are able to control who has access to their pages in such a way they can only be viewed by ‘friends’. Closed communities often exist for the sole purpose of trading in counterfeit products.”

The discs were sent to the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) who confirmed the films were counterfeit.

Defending, Simon Gretton said Morris had turned to crime to pay off loan sharks and avoid losing his home being after a benefits mess up, following his partner’s illness.

He said: “Kevin Morris felt if he didn’t do something they would face eviction. So he turned to money lenders of various types. Borrowing money from loan sharks is never a good idea. he was desperate for money. He spoke to a couple of friends who gave him ideas.

“When his house was raided Mr Morris wants to make clear there were no luxuries - it was a council home with basic furniture.

“He had simply been trying to keep the wolf from the door.”

The bench imposed a £80 victim surcharge.