Criminal couple found guilty for running an illegal DVD and CD copying operation

Friday 16th January/… A husband and wife team have been sentenced to seven months in prison having been found guilty of running an illegal DVD and CD copying operation in Durham. In the first successful prosecution of 2009 for such offences, the couple denied selling counterfeit goods on August 21, 2007, but were found guilty at the end of the trial. Graeme Shead, 39 and his 43-year-old wife, Sharon Shead, of Seventh Street, Horden, Durham, appeared before Peterlee Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday January 13 to be sentenced for offences under the Trade Marks Act (1994) and the Video Recordings Act (1985) as a result of a prosecution brought by Durham Trading Standards.

Following undercover surveillance at local markets in the Durham area, conducted by officers from Durham Trading Standards Department as well as investigators from ELSPA (the Entertainment & Leisure Publishers Association), video footage evidence was recorded of the couple selling counterfeit goods at local markets.

On August 21 2007, a search warrant was obtained and a raid subsequently executed by Trading Standards, ELSPA officers and local Police at the premises of Graeme and Sharon Shead, which they shared with two children. During the raid, approximately 130 counterfeit computer games were seized along with additional pirated DVDs, CDs and computer equipment – including a copying tower.

The maximum penalty upon conviction for offences under the Trade Marks Act is an unlimited fine and/or up to 10 years imprisonment.

Graeme and Sharon Shead were charged with possession of counterfeit discs in the control of a business on August 23, 2007. At the end of the trial, Graeme Shead was jailed for 12 weeks and his wife Sharon for 16 weeks.

Michael Rawlinson, managing director of ELSPA, said: “I would like to thank Durham Trading Standards and local Police for successfully shutting down this criminal operation. ELSPA would like to thank the efforts of everyone concerned in their attempts to protect legitimate local traders and remove illegal products from the marketplace. In 2009 our team in the Intellectual Property Crime Unit (IPCU) is stepping up its fight against counterfeiters stealing game software and other intellectual property rights of our members. Increasingly sophisticated tracking techniques are making it harder than ever for these thieves to avoid detection.”