A MARKET trader who was found in possession of dangerous 'squishy' toys has been prosecuted and ordered to pay more than £1,000 in costs.

Darlington market stall holder Greg Lane, appeared at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court after an investigation by Trading Standards found he had applied his own fake 'CE' safety stickers to the toys.

The 52-year-old of Sidcup Avenue in Park End near Middlesbrough was first investigated by Darlington Borough Council's Trading Standards following a tip-off that goods on his outdoor market stall were unsafe.

After visiting Lane's stall in December 2018, 43 squishy toys and a quantity of warning stickers bearing fake 'CE' marks were seized for analysis and tension testing.

Out of a selection of toys checked, all were found to be unsafe after tension testing revealed foam from the toys could be ripped off, releasing small parts and posing a choking hazard.

Analysis also confirmed legally required markings and information were also not present on any test toys.

Appearing before magistrates on Wednesday, January 15, Lane pleaded guilty to eight toy safety offences brought under the Consumer Protection Act 1988.

Lane was fined and ordered to pay costs which came to £1,134 and an application for forfeiture of all of the seized items was granted.

After Lane's prosecution Dawn Taylor, Trading Standards and animal heath manager, said: "It is vitally important that traders know, understand and comply with the law to ensure the toys that they supply and sell to consumers are safe.

“It’s children, particularly young children, who pay the highest price, often with their health or even their lives, if the toys they play with are not safe.

“Trading Standards will continue to do all it can to ensure that children are protected from the risks posed by dangerous toys but consumers must remain vigilant too.

“One of our key roles is to maintain a safe and fair trading environment within Darlington.

"Much can be achieved by working with businesses to secure compliance but we will not hesitate to take robust enforcement action where the need arises.”

Lane was issued with a Withdrawal Notice by Trading Standards under general product safety legislation to prevent him from supplying any more of the squishy toys.

Councillor Jonathan Dulston said: “The sentence handed down should act as a clear warning to those businesses who fail to comply with the law and indeed those that deliberately flout the law.

“I would urge businesses who are unsure of their obligations to get advice as soon as possible. It’s frightening to think about what may happen if a child comes into contact with an unsafe toy.”

Anyone with concerns about the safety or labelling of toys can contact Darlington Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454-040506.