A man who sold hundreds of dodgy DVDs at a car boot sale in Cheltenham 12 years ago has finally been brought to justice. Qiang Xia was one of two men who were arrested after an undercover sting at a car boot sale in 2010.
He disappeared after being caught and failed to appear at court. But this week his past caught up with him when he was convicted of the historic offences more than a decade after he was first arrested.
Neither of the two men attended court when charges were first brought against them, but one was caught and prosecuted soon afterwards after being found selling counterfeit DVDs again. Qiang Xia proved more elusive but was arrested last week and appeared at Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court on March 23, 2022.
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The 38-year-old, formerly of Birmingham but now of Wolverhampton, admitted 12 offences of selling, or possessing for sale, fake DVDs and one offence of selling fake tobacco. He was fined £110, ordered to pay £645 towards prosecution costs and the court ordered all seized items to be forfeited and destroyed.
The investigation began when trading standards officers with Gloucestershire County Council received information that two people were selling illegal tobacco and fake DVDs from their car at Southam Car Boot sale in Cheltenham. In a covert operation on September 19, 2010, officers purchased a Toy Story 3 DVD and a pouch of Golden Virginia tobacco, which were both confirmed to be fake on examination.
Officers seized 34 pouches of Golden Virginia tobacco and 269 DVDs on that same date at the car boot sale and a further 499 counterfeit DVDs from Xia’s house in Birmingham on October 27, 2010. Following the investigation Xia was charged and summoned to court on March 19, 2012, but he failed to attend and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Nothing more was heard of him as he laid low for 10 years until he was arrested in the West Midlands last week. He was ordered to attend Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court, where the prosecution was finally able to go ahead.
Gloucestershire County Councillor Dave Norman, cabinet member for trading standards, said: “This prosecution sends out a clear message that no matter how long you think you can hide for, eventually you will be caught and brought before the courts. These illegal activities harm the trade of legitimate suppliers and they will not get away with it.”