Computer pirate avoids jail

A COMPUTER repair man who ripped off his customer and Microsoft has been told to do unpaid work for the community as punishment. Andrew Largent was caught after he alerted Trading Standards to the illegal dealings of other computer traders.

A COMPUTER repair man who ripped off his customer and Microsoft has been told to do unpaid work for the community as punishment.

Andrew Largent was caught after he alerted Trading Standards to the illegal dealings of other computer traders. Largent admitted sticking certificates of authenticity he had peeled off legitimate computers onto his duds, South East Suffolk Magistrates Court heard.

The 48 year old, who ran the illegal operation from his house garage in Salmet Close in Ipswich, also installed Microsoft software without the computer giants permission. He also used the Microsoft trademark illegally.

Ian de Prez, prosecuting for Trading Standards, said “The essential mischief is that it is a general fraud on the public and of detriment to legitimate computer traders.”


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He said typical prices for buying software ranged from £40 to £90, but copies discs were found in Largent's garage and he admitted not paying the going rate.

Mr de Prez said: “ Largent's computer business had an annual turnover of up to £10,000, and although the repairs side was legitimate, the illegal sale side was discovered after Largent contacted Trading Standards.

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Mr de Prez said “We still do not know if his call to us complaining about other traders was a double bluff or extreme naivety”.

He said Trading Standard's officers made a test purchase of a computer from Largent for £100, and sent it to Microsoft, and it was confirmed that it infringed its copyright because it was not registered.

On January 30 last year, officers raided Largent's garage come workshop and found 25 tower processors, some for sale, four large CD Holders containing copied software discs and 105 Certificate of Authenticity stickers.

Largent pleaded guilty to five offences of selling goods with a false trade mark, seven offences of possessing items with a false trade mark, five charges of distributing items without copyright permission, and one charge of fraud.

Dino Barricella, mitigating, said Largent was arrested in January and had the case “hanging over his head” for a year. He said his client had no previous convictions and had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

He said that less than 50per cent of Largent's business had come from computer sales, and now the entire business had ceased.

Largent was ordered to do 240 hours unpaid work for the community, and he was told to pay £1,000 towards the £6,500 prosecution costs, which would come from the public purse.

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