A POST office manager was caught with more than 500 pirate DVDs in his shop.
Postmaster Mahmood Ashraf, of Aylesford Mews, Sunderland, was caught with 546 films when police and trading standards officials raided the post office in Binchester Street, South Shields, last January following a tip-off.
Ashraf was arrested on suspicion of selling the discs, and a further 336 DVDs were found at his home.
He pleaded guilty to 12 counts of possessing goods with a false trademark for sale at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
The court heard that Ashraf, who has run the post office with his wife since 1999, would buy the DVDs from a supplier and sell them to his friends to make extra money after getting into financial difficulties.
Magistrates were told there was no proof that he sold the films from the post office.
Angus Taylor, prosecuting on behalf of South Tyneside Council, said: “As far back as September 2011, trading standards officers were made aware of potential counterfeit goods being held at the premises.
“Surveillance was carried out, and the post office was searched in January last year.
“As well as the discs that were seized, the defendant’s home computer was also taken, and on it there were graphics and artwork for the DVDs and their covers.”
Mr Taylor told the court that Ashraf, who had no previous convictions, gave a prepared statement to the police in which he admitted selling the DVDs after falling on hard times.
Muhammad Awan, defending, said his client was a hard-working family man who only started selling the DVDs to a select group of friends out of desperation.
The court was told the bootleg income brought in between £100 and £200 a month, which was used for fuel, food and other essentials.
Mr Awan said Ashraf and his wife would lose their jobs at the post office.
Ashraf was given a two-year conditional discharge, with £2,885 court costs.
Magistrates also ordered that the DVDs and his computer be destroyed.