A MARKET stallholder has admitted selling fake designer goods that fail to comply with safety conditions.

Trading standards officers seized counterfeit products including ghd hair straighteners, Juicy Couture flip-flops, Tiffany bracelets and Ugg boots from a stall at Portland Market.

Experts found that the hair straighteners and hairdryers on sale were ‘a departure’ from the safety standards expected, Weymouth Magistrates Court heard.

Stallholder Timothy David Smale was selling the counterfeit products because he was being chased by loan sharks, the court was told.

Smale, 45, has pleaded guilty to nine charges of possessing goods with a false trade mark for sale or hire and to two charges of failing to comply with safety conditions.

Martin Thursby, principal trading standards officer for Dorset County Council, told magistrates that Smale, of Uphill Way, Weston-Super-Mare, had at least £5,000 worth of fake designer goods in his van at Portland Market, Yeates Corner, on July 26.

He added: “Officers were conducting a routine inspection when they noticed Mr Smale’s stall and saw the ghd sign there.

“They went to get extra transport to seize the goods and when they came back, Mr Smale had disappeared.

“They called the police and decided to seize the van.

“Mr Smale then reappeared and asked what was happening to his van.

“He was taken to the police station and said in interview that the goods were counterfeit.”

Mr Thursby said Smale told police he had only been trading for four or five weeks and wasn’t able to say where he’d bought them from.

He added: “An expert witness found both the hair straighteners and the hairdryers to have serious departures from the safety compliance for British standard.”

Mitigating, Andy Lee said Smale suffered from a gambling addiction for a number of years and had incurred a lot of debts.

He added: “Mr Smale made a financial decision which would enable him to pay off the loan sharks.

“He was petrified of what would happen if he didn’t pay the debts off.

“He believes it was the only way of making a bit of money to pay off his debts and buy himself a bit more time.

“While there was a considerable number of items there, it wasn’t an effort to live a life of luxury by selling counterfeit goods.”

Mr Lee added that Smale was previously a car salesman and wasn’t an expert on the items.

Magistrates asked for a pre-sentence report for Smale and ordered him to return to Weymouth Magistrates Court on December 1 for sentencing.

'Straighteners were dangerous'

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Thursby said there was concern about the safety of the hair straighteners and hairdryers Smale was selling.

He said: “The hair straighteners were found to be dangerous by an expert witness.

“The safety of Dorset residents is important to us.

“What looks like a bargain on a market stall, if it’s cheaper then you would pay for it in shops, then you should be suspicious.”

Mr Thursby said the trading standards team visited every market and car boot sale in Dorset during the summer and identified Smale’s stall during these visits.

He added: “Mr Smale wasn’t a regular trader. He was warned that trading standards would catch him.

“He said he bought the goods from Bristol but it is very hard to find the source when they are coming from a big city.”