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  • Durham OnAir

County Durham women prosecuted for handling fake trainers

Two Bishop Auckland women have been ordered to pay hundreds of pounds and

complete 80 hours each of unpaid work after being found in possession of counterfeit


At a Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court hearing, the court heard that 44-year-old Joanne

McKimm and 25-year-old Sarah Bell handled fake designer goods worth tens of thousands

of pounds.

An investigation by Durham County Council’s Trading Standards team found that

McKimm, of Yorkshire Place, Bishop Auckland and Bell, of Farm Close, Bishop Auckland,

took delivery of thousands of pairs of counterfeit sports trainers between April 2018 and

October 2019.

The pair’s actions came to light following an investigation in April 2019 by Leicestershire

County Council’s Trading Standards team, which showed deliveries of fake trainers were

being sent from China to Bishop Auckland.

In October 2019, Durham Trading Standards officers issued warrants at the recipient

addresses – including McKimm’s and Bell’s - and discovered that McKimm and Bell had

signed for 38 boxes. Several boxes were opened and found to contain counterfeit Nike Air

Max 270 trainers.

Officers also found unpackaged trainers at McKimm’s address, which suggested that she was aware of the boxes’ contents, as well as a small number of counterfeit clothing items.

Whilst officers were at McKimm’s address, a courier arrived to collect the boxes. He was arrested and, when questioned, confirmed that he had been asked to collect the boxes

from Bishop Auckland and transport them to Manchester.

In the following days, trading standards were notified by the delivery company UPS that

further parcels were destined for the same addresses in Bishop Auckland. The shipments

were intercepted by officers and a total of 63 boxes, containing an estimated 1,500 pairs of

counterfeit trainers, were seized.

The street value of the counterfeit goods was estimated to be between £39,375 and

£78,750 but, with genuine designer trainers selling for £119.95, the estimated retail value

of the trainers seized amounted to £188,921.25.

During the investigation, Bell’s mobile phones were seized. When examined they

contained Facebook and WhatsApp messages between her and McKimm which

suggested they were involved in selling goods, including photographs of counterfeit

tracksuits and trainers, a discussion about setting up a fake Facebook account and plans

to travel to Manchester to buy trademarked goods.

The phone also linked both Bell and McKimm to a Facebook profile which had been used

to advertise trainers matching the description of those seized, for sale at a price which

indicated that they are likely to have been counterfeit.

McKimm’s Macbook was also seized and shown to contain numerous Facebook

messages from a man whose name matched that given by the delivery man on the date of

the original seizures.

Delivery records for the delivery company DHL showed that, between April 2018 and

October 2019, there had been 225 shipments addressed to McKimm’s and other

properties with some confirmed as coming from Hong Kong or China and containing

shoes. Fake recipient names had been used but the parcels had been signed for by

McKimm and Bell.

When interviewed under caution, McKimm and Bell both denied being involved with

counterfeit goods but stated that they were asked by McKimm’s friend in Manchester to

accept the parcels. Both denied knowing what was in the boxes and advised that they had

never received any form of benefit, financial or otherwise from the arrangement.

The pair pleaded guilty to one charge each under the Trade Marks Act 1992.

The court heard that neither McKimm or Bell had any previous convictions, were

previously of good character and had shown genuine remorse for their actions.

McKimm received a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, was ordered to

undertake 80 hours of unpaid work and instructed to pay a £128 victim surcharge and a

£500 contribution towards costs.

Bell received a lesser sentence, as she was unaware what was in the boxes. She was

ordered to undertake 80 hours of unpaid work and to pay a £128 victim surcharge and a

£500 contribution towards costs.

The seized goods were destroyed.

Joanne Waller, head of community protection services at Durham County Council, said:

“We are pleased with the magistrates’ decision to sentence McKimm and Bell to

community work on top of the costs which must be paid. Hopefully this case will deter illicit

traders who think they can make easy money by ripping off consumers with illegal


“Our Trading Standards team will always seek to protect consumers from fraudulent goods

and to protect legitimate businesses"


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