A MAN has narrowly avoided being sent to prison for selling pirate DVDs at Basildon boot sales.

Anthony Wiggins, 51, of Nether Priors, Basildon, was given a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 weeks, when he appeared at Basildon Crown Court.

The court heard Wiggins was caught by a joint operation run by Essex Trading Standards and Basildon police.

Wiggins admitted three charges of possessing counterfeit DVDs and five of producing counterfeit DVDs.

Alison Lambert, prosecuting, told the court test purchasers confirmed Wiggins was selling the fake DVDs at boot sales at Sadlers Farm, Benfleet, and the Carpenters Arms, Rawreth, on June 30 and August 5.

Police then searched Wiggins’s house and they seized 192 pirate DVDs, a disc burner and printer. The court heard trading standards officers were then able to confirm the disc burner had produced the pirated discs found at the house and sold at the fairs.

Sgt Paul Costin, of Basildon police said: “I’m absolutely delighted with this conviction.

“It is the result of a lot of hard work between PC Danielle Hutton and the Essex Trading Standards team.

“I must pay tribute to the standard of evidence gathered by PC Hutton, which has enabled us to secure this conviction.

“The production of counterfeit DVDs is part of organised crime and something we are working hard to stop.”

An Essex Trading Standards spokesman said pirate DVD sellers damaged legitimate businesses.

He added: “In this case, the goods were of particularly poor quality and sold at boot fairs, which meant customers would not be able to get redress from Mr Wiggins, as he would not be traceable.

“On this occasion, the courts have seen fit to bestow a suspended prison sentence.

We can but hope Mr Wiggins will take this opportunity to change his ways.”