A man who fled his country to find safety in Newport has been locked up after he was twice caught selling fake branded trainers, T-shirt and tracksuits.

Alireza Balmeh, 35, of Clyffard Crescent, pleaded guilty to possessing and selling counterfeit clothes branded with the Nike, Lacoste, North Face and Adidas logos.

He managed two Facebook pages under different names to sell fake Nike trainers for £40, including postage and packaging, Newport Crown Court heard today (Friday, January 4).

His crimes came to light when a Nike employee came across counterfeit trainers being sold from one of the pages on February 14, 2018, and arranged a test purchase.

The company contacted Newport City Council’s trading standards department with their evidence, prosecutor Christopher Evans told the court.

“The employee ordered two pairs of Nike trainers, which were proved to be counterfeit,” said Mr Evans.

“In the transaction, the supplier had provided bank details for the defendant, including an address.

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“The defendant was arrested at his address on September 26. On his person he had £4,000 in cash and three mobile phones.”

Balmeh also keys to a transit van and a car, both parked outside.

When council trading standard officers searched the van, they found a contract with a storage firm based in The Palm Court, Belnheim Road, Newport, where Balmeh had rented a storage unit on January 19, 2018.

Inside the unit officers found 435 pairs of fake Nike trainers, 26 fake Nike T-shirts, 52 fake Nike tracksuits, nine North Face tracksuits and 30 Lacoste tracksuits.

Had the items had been genuine, the court heard their value would have been £61,750.

Based on the prices advertised on his Facebook pages, Balmeh stood to earn £18,760 if he had managed to sell the goods.

Balmeh was already the subject of a suspended sentence after being caught selling counterfeit Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch goods under the name ‘Yes Clearance’ on Facebook and eBay early in 2018.

On that occasion, he was given a nine week sentence, suspended for 12 months by Newport Magistrates Court.

The sentence was given on the same day Balmeh took out the storage contract to store more counterfeit goods.

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In mitigation, Julia Cox told the court that Balmeh was under pressure from the suppliers in his first case to repay his debts.

“He struggled to get normal employment, and struggled to come to terms with the fact that he had to repay the debt,” said Ms Cox.

“He fell back into the only thing he knew.”

Ms Cox also told the court that Blameh had arrived in Newport in 2009 when he was in his early 20s, having fled Iran after fearing for his personal safety and spending 17 days in the back of a lorry before reaching the UK.

She also spoke of Balmeh’s mental health, noting that his “significant” Obsessive Compulsive Disorder would make life behind bars “extremely difficult” for him.

Sentencing, Judge Vosper QC told the defendant that if this had been his first offence he would have made every effort to keep him out of prison.

“The difficulty for the defendant, is that this is a breach of his suspended sentence.” Judge Vosper told the court

Judge Vosper added that he rejected the mitigation of being indebted to his previous suppliers as a “consequence of his crimes”, and added that his mental health was “not a cause of his actions.”

“I will give effect to the custodial sentence of nine weeks imposed by the magistrates’,” said Judge Vosper.

“On the counts of this inditement before me I impose a further sentence of nine weeks. The total sentence therefore is 18 weeks.

“This sentence takes into account the difficulty you would experience in custody. That is the least sentence I can possibly impose.”

Balmeh will serve half the sentence before being released on licence.