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
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
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
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"