Dealer convicted over sale of dangerous phone chargers
The owner of three shops selling fake and dangerous mobile phone chargers has been given an 18-month community order, fined £1,000 and ordered to pay more than £26,000 in court costs, following action by Kent County Council’s trading standards.
Badar Munir (34), of Northdown Road, Margate, operates Fonez Station in High Street, Margate, and the Talk Shop in Northdown Road. He previously owned the Trade-In Station, in Harbour Street, Ramsgate, which has since closed.
All three stores sold mobile phone parts and accessories and other items such as gaming items, speakers and memory cards.
Katherine Lewis, prosecuting, told Canterbury Crown Court that Kent County Council's trading standards were contacted in September 2013 by a customer of the Fonez shop who bought a mobile phone charger which subsequently went wrong and caught fire while charging.
Trading standards officers, backed up by police officers from the Margate Task Force, visited all three shops and seized various items which were thought to breach trademarks and/or safety requirements. These items were tested and confirmed as counterfeit and in some instances dangerous.
The chargers presented a risk of fire or electrocution and failed safety tests because of inadequate markings and instructions, poor construction and inadequate insulation. In addition, the pins of the plug were not adequate and there could have been inadvertent contact with the live parts of the pin when inserting the adaptor or removing it from the socket.
It was unclear whether the stores were being run either by Mr Munir as a sole trader or as part of the limited company, Talkshop UK Limited, of which Mr Munir is the sole director. Proceedings were started against the limited company, Munir as the director of the company and as an individual, and it was left to the court to decide where the liabilities lay.
Munir denied all charges but was found guilty as an individual for Fonez Station and Trade-In Station (six trade mark offences and two safety offences). The company and Mr Munir as sole director were found guilty in respect of Talkshop UK (one trade mark offence each).
A number of items – headphones, cables, speakers, plugs ad chargers -were ordered to be forfeited and destroyed: 1,058 items from Fonez, 72 from Talkshop and 300 from Trade-in Station.
Munir was given an 18-month community order with 300 hours unpaid work, fined £500 and ordered to pay £60 victim surcharge and costs to KCC of £26,693. Talkshop UK Ltd was fined a further £500.
Kent County Council trading standards manager Mark Rolfe said he was delighted with the result of the case.
“This was not our first involvement with Mr Munir and we issued him with a caution for a similar offence in 2009.
“The incident of the phone charger which caught fire was potentially life-threatening, but at least it provided us with the evidence to tackle the problem in a thorough way and will hopefully put an end to his activities.
“At first glance, it is not obvious that these chargers are fakes. The people who produce them go to a lot of trouble to make them look authentic, but the working parts inside are often not of the proper standard and, if left plugged in and unattended, could prove lethal.”
“There are many successful businesses in Kent selling this type of goods. This case demonstrates that those who cut corners and undermine those legitimate businesses whilst putting lives at risk will face the consequences”
For further information contact Murray Evans at Kent County Council Press Office on 03000 416071 or email firstname.lastname@example.org