Family's fury as DVD pirate dad jailed

A DAD-of-two who ran a bogus DVD racket from his South Tyneside home is today behind bars.

Simon Keenan bought counterfeit films from the Far East and flogged them for profit on eBay and his own website.

At peak times, such as Christmas, house husband Keenan, of Connaught Terrace, Jarrow, could make 350 a day shifting up to 70 films, making a 5 profit on each.

A Newcastle Crown Court judge yesterday jailed the 36-year-old for six months which Trading Standards and the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) hoped would send a message out to other DVD criminals.

But today wife Ros defended her husband and claimed "everybody is at it."

Speaking at the home raided by trading standards in December 2005, where they found a haul of 2,050 DVDs, she said: "Simon has never been in trouble in his life, he's never even had a speeding ticket, but now he's been sent to jail for selling DVDs.

"He's a dedicated family man, who always puts his family first. He's really shaken up by this and he's going to miss his kids so much. It is something that people do every day on eBay, but they don't get sent to jail for it like Simon did. It's really harsh."

South Tyneside Council employee Mrs Keenan, mum to the couple's two children Megan, seven, and four-year-old Emily, added: "We're just in complete shock. It's a total nightmare, I keep thinking I'll wake up from all this."

Officers found 1,625 different titles at Keenan's home, including box sets of hit TV shows Nip/Tuck and the X-Files, when they raided it in December 2005.

Investigations revealed he had used five different eBay accounts in three years.

The 36-year-old, admitted he had been running the scam for around five years but defence barrister Brian Mark told the court Keenan's lack of business sense meant he didn't make any profit from the scam and is now deep in debt.

Keenan admitted 18 specimen offences of unauthorised use of trademarks and three specimen offences of importing articles infringing copyright.

Sentencing him to six months in jail, Mr Recorder Christopher Williams told him: "These offences are difficult to detect and expensive to pursue.

"There is a requirement in the judgement of this court, for the message to go out that such offences will result in inevitable and immediate custodial sentences."

After the case, councillor Michael Clare, lead member environment, housing and transport with South Tyneside Council, said: "We need to get a message out there that it is not acceptable to sell these counterfeit goods and that there is a real risk of getting caught.

"Selling counterfeit DVDs robs both the entertainment industry and reputable businesses of millions of pounds each year. Every pound in the pocket of an seller of illegal goods is a pound less for local businesses.

"In this case, Keenan persisted with his operation despite repeated warnings from industry representatives that the products he was selling were fake. Our Trading Standards and Legal Services teams deserve great credit for their role in investigating this complex case and bringing it to court."

Kieron Sharp, director general of FACT, added: "Keenan was a persistent offender who, despite many warnings from ourselves, continued trading in knock off DVDs. The prison sentence handed out to him should act as a stern warning to those involved in similar activity."

To report any illegal activity of this nature call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.