A DORSET woman has been ordered to pay more than £65,000 for selling illegal copies of fancy dress costumes.

Michelea Mariner, 49, who sold Superwoman, Snow White, Supergirl, Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and Batman outfits aimed at hen parties, was convicted of seven offences following an investigation by Dorset Trading Standards.

Prosecutors heard how officers searched her home after making a test purchase from her online store, and seized nearly 200 suspect costumes.

Investigations revealed that most of the products being sold were illegal copies of costumes bearing trademarked images and were being used without permission.

The investigation was triggered when a complaint was raised by another fancy dress seller in July 2018. Officers also seized business-related documents and computer equipment.

Mariner pleaded guilty to selling, advertising and possessing costumes bearing counterfeit copies of registered trademarks and was given a three-year conditional discharge. She was ordered to pay a Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation order for £65,000 and £1,500 towards prosecution costs.

A forfeiture order was made for the 196 items seized from her home, where she sold the costumes online operating under the name ‘The Hen Party Store’, which traded as ‘Henpartiesandmore’.

Prosecutors at Bournemouth Crown Court also heard that in October 2017 one of the internet-based selling platforms she was using, Etsy, contacted her advising that she was selling trade mark-infringing copies and that they were closing her online shop, which she operated from her home, but she continued selling through a variety of other online outlets.

The case was initially prosecuted by Dorset County Council and concluded by Dorset Council.

After the case, Ivan Hancock, service manager for Trading Standards at Dorset Council, said: “The sale of counterfeit goods can have a seriously detrimental effect on legitimate businesses selling genuine goods, as well as damaging the business of trade mark owners. We will continue to take enforcement action in appropriate cases and undertake the financial investigations necessary to recover proceeds of crime.

"Any Dorset business requiring guidance on compliance with trade mark law or other trading standards legislation can call the trading standards business advice line on 01305 224702."