COUNCIL officers have warned video pirates selling counterfeit goods in Darlington they will be caught and punished.

The warning came after a man was sentenced by Newton Aycliffe magistrates for illegally producing thousands of videotapes and compact discs.

Kevin Bowes, 33, of Salisbury Terrace, Darlington, pleaded guilty to seven specimen charges of fraudulent use of trademarks and asked for 43 other offences to be considered when he appeared in court last year.

The case was adjourned for reports until Monday, when Bowes appeared at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court for sentencing.

He was given 90 hours of community service and a 12- month rehabilitation order with the probation service.

He was also ordered to pay £250 costs.

The court ordered Bowes to hand over the thousands of compact discs and videos he had produced to Darlington Borough Council's trading standards department.

All the tapes and discs will be destroyed.

During the initial hearing, Bowes, 33, claimed he had started copying CDs and videos to build up his personal collection while working in an electronics factory.

Darlington Magistrates' Court heard that as people found out what he was doing he was asked to copy items to order.

Bowes started copying items for payment, but it was stressed he had not made a lot of money from the venture and had never advertised for customers.

Andrea Catterick, prosecuting for Darlington Borough Council, said trading standards officers had been tipped off that Bowes was producing counterfeit CDs.

After Bowes was sentenced, Councillor Stephen Harker, Darlington council cabinet member for community protection, said: "The message is clear. If you deal in counterfeit goods, trading standards officers are out there to ensure that members of the public are protected. You will get caught and the courts will punish you."

Police carried out a raid in Mallory Court and found thousands of CDs, videos, computer equipment, scanners, printers and other equipment used to produce CDs and videos.

Bowes said he was living at his brother's house in Westmoreland Street, Darlington, at that time. His brother's home was also searched and more counterfeit videos and CDs were found with copied trademarks.