Fagley shopkeeper pleads guilty over counterfeit discs and £38,000 cannabis operation

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Judge David Hatton Judge David Hatton

A Bradford newsagent boosted his takings by pirating DVDs to rent out and allowing cannabis to be grown above the shop, a court heard.

Assim Bhatti, 37, of Fagley Terrace, Fagley, was caught by the police with hundreds of counterfeit DVDs and copying equipment at Fagley News, and the flats above it, in March last year.

Police officers who raided the property found a £38,000 cannabis farm had been set up in the flat over the shop.

They seized boxes containing the DVDs and a computer with equipment to burn illegal copies of films.

Bhatti pleaded guilty to possessing articles with a false trademark, possession of copying equipment and intending to sell items without a licence, between January 1 and March 27 last year.

He also admitted allowing the production of cannabis at his premises.

In September last year, Bhatti received a suspended jail sentence at Bradford Crown Court for the cannabis offence, coupled with an order to do unpaid work.

Yesterday, he was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 50 more hours of unpaid work, bringing the total outstanding to 179 hours.

Prosecutor, Duncan Ritchie, said Bhatti intended to rent out counterfeit DVDs at the shop.

In mitigation, Bhatti’s barrister, Nick Worsley, said the father-of-two would not be tempted in future to illegally boost his shop takings because he no longer ran the business.

“This is not the type of offence that is going to happen again. His circumstances have changed completely,” Mr Worsley said.

Bhatti was now working at the Hovis bakery in the city and his earnings went to support his wife and family, the court was told.

Judge David Hatton QC ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the pirated DVDs.

Mr Ritchie told the judge it was impossible to quantify Bhatti’s gain from the offending or the loss to those in the film industry.

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