FAKE designer clothing was bought in bulk to be sold door-to-door to businesses, a court heard.

Forty track-suits and jumpers bearing labels of well-known makes like Henri Lloyd, Lacoste, Fred Perry and Rockport were seized from self-employed salesman Robert Smith.

But Durham magistrates were told on brief examination they were obviously counterfeit due to their poor quality.

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Smith was arrested in Consett, County Durham, in December 2005, and police passed on the large box of seized goods to trading standards officers.

Amy Harrison, prosecuting for Durham County Council, said: "All were found to be counterfeit because of the inferior quality of the goods, and the labelling and packaging was not consistent with what you would expect for such products.

"Examiners concluded he wasn't approved to sell these goods."

Miss Harrison said Smith told investigators he was unaware they were counterfeit when he bought them in Bury, near Manchester, the previous day.

"He said he bought them to sell for profit, but he was never able to carry out his intention.

"He claimed to have paid £18 per garment and around £720 for a bulk lot, but he did not request a receipt."

Miss Harrison said genuine items would usually cost around £60 to £70 and would only be reduced to £40 in sales.

She added: "He said he thought they were end-of-line or last season's fashions, but I'm informed it would have been obvious to anyone they were not genuine."

Chris Bunting, for Smith, said it was, "not a very sophisticated case".

"He's a married man of 43, with four children and he goes about selling goods via his van, on a door-to-door basis.

"He tries to sell to businesses rather than to homes, and it's pretty much a hand-to-mouth existence."

Mr Bunting said Smith came to police attention as officers were investigating the theft of other goods from commercial premises at the time.

"Had it not been for the intervention of police he would have sold this box of items without knowing they were counterfeit goods.

"He's quite ashamed as someone who has never previously been in trouble with the law."

Smith, of Yarm Road, Darlington, admitted breaching trademark regulations and was fined £200, with £317 prosecution costs and £100 court costs.

The magistrates also ordered forfeiture and destruction of the seized goods.