A FACEBOOK trader from Cwmbran has been given to a suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to selling and possessing more than 140 counterfeit items.

Michelle Dowling, of Rhymney Court, Thornhill, appeared in Newport Magistrates’ Court on Friday, March 9, in relation to selling counterfeit items including watches, clothing, headphones, jewellery and speakers.

A Torfaen council trading standards investigation revealed Dowling used more than 10 ‘fake names’ to avoid detection while trading.

Dowling, aged 39, pleaded guilty to 24 trade mark charges related to fraudulent use of trademarks and selling the items on a variety of online Facebook selling sites.

The court heard that the items were hidden at a local storage company in a further attempt to avoid detection.

The Cwmbran woman was given credit for her early guilty plea but was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison suspended for 18 months.

Dowling was also charged £1,519 costs and a £115 victim surcharge by magistrates and ordered to undertake a community order of 80 hours unpaid work.

Counterfeit items were seized and a “prohibition requirement” was ordered which will prohibit the trader from selling items online for 18 months.

Torfaen council’s executive member for planning and public protection, cllr Gwyneira Clark, said the case demonstrated the “success” of investigating counterfeit items in the borough.

“This is yet another case that shows that our trading standards team continue to successfully investigate the problem of counterfeit items,” she said.

“Genuine businesses are undermined by criminal sellers of counterfeit goods which can be poor quality and unsafe. I would therefore encourage residents only to buy from reputable or accredited sellers wherever possible.”

Anyone with information can contact the joint Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen Trading Standards team on 01633 647623 or e-mail trading.standards@torfaen.gov.uk

Further information be found at torfaen.gov.uk.