A PENARTH man has been found guilty of selling unsafe cosmetics, counterfeit goods and jewellery breaching hallmarking requirements.

The arrest of Sean Payter follows a Trading Standards investigation for the Vale council.

Shared Regulatory Services (SRS), who undertake investigation services across the Local Authority areas of Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale, began investigating Payter after receiving a complaint from the Assay Office, the body responsible for testing and hallmarking precious metals.

The Assay Office had carried out a test purchase from gem2gems, a company operated by Payter and Stefan Hodgson from Newport, that sold jewellery on eBay.

It found that an item was not silver, as described, and did not contain the advertised gem stones.

Further testing by SRS found that other items of jewellery were also misdescribed and that cosmetics being sold were unsafe and possibly infringed trademarks.

After executing a warrant for the home of Payter, SRS officers seized jewellery, cosmetics and £12,845 in cash.

The investigation showed that Payter and Hodgson had been trading for five years and at one point ran a website called gems2gems.co.uk.

They had been buying items such as necklaces, bracelets, bangles and earrings from a website in China without verifying that they were genuine.

Counterfeit cufflinks and belts were also identified along with cosmetics that weren’t safe to be used.

Payter, from St Davids Cresent in Penarth and Hodgson, of Park Drive Newport, both plead guilty to 12 offences in total; two under Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, six under the Hallmarking Act, two under Cosmetic Product Enforcement Regulations and two under the Trademarks Act.

They were sentenced to a total of 20 months in prison, reduced to 14 months for early guilty pleas, suspended for 18 months.

The pair must also pay a victim surcharge of £140 each and Mr Payter will face an investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Judge Nicola Jones told the men if it wasn’t for their ill health both would have been sent to prison.

She stated that this was a large-scale, sophisticated business and that the defendants did not care that the cosmetic products they were selling were unsafe.

She has also expressed concern that there was no way to recall the offending goods from their customers.

The judge also said the men showed no duty of care towards purchasers, with complaints and refunds requests ignored.

Cllr Eddie Williams, chair of the SRS joint committee and Vale of Glamorgan Council cabinet member for legal, regulatory and planning services, said: “This was a despicable operation that took money from members of the public for items that were not what they purported to be.

“Great work by Shared Regulatory Services has led to this prosecution, which ensures that no more people will fall victim to this company.

“This case should serve as a warning to others operating illegally within our community. The council will actively look to protect our residents and will not hesitate to take action if we find people are not operating within the parameters of the law.”