Five men who illegally streamed live Premier League matches, earning millions in the process, have been jailed for a total of over 30 years, with the ringleader sentenced to 11 years.
It follows a lengthy investigation, led by Hammersmith & Fulham Council officers, into the biggest copyright case of its kind in the world.
Illegal cut-price TV sport subscriptions for live top-flight football matches netted the gang more than £7million, with Mark Gould of Greenwich described in court as having “clearly had a leading role”. He was handed an 11-year jail sentence.
Four others were also imprisoned, one for five years and nine months, while another remains to be sentenced after failing to appear in court.
The investigation began in 2018 after a team from the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) passed evidence to the Premier League, which worked with the trading standards teams at Hammersmith & Fulham Council and Kensington and Chelsea Council.
It pointed to Hammersmith-born Gould’s company, registered in North Kensington and trading as Flawless TV, being responsible. Details of the identities and payment methods of his 50,000 subscribers have been seized.
H&F trading standards officer Doug Love and Richard Murphy of the anti-fraud team led raids on three London addresses, and successfully applied to court to freeze Gould’s assets.
A search of Gould’s flat found 22 set-top boxes linked together to intercept live TV feeds to broadcasters in the UK, Middle East, United States, Australia and Canada, and illegally stream them to viewers in Britain.
Information gathered from Gould’s seized computers led to the other defendants in the case, with search warrants executed at addresses across England and Wales, and assets frozen by court order.
The Premier League funded the £1m cost of the prosecution, with lengthy court proceedings culminating in sentences being handed down on Tuesday (30 May) at a court in Chesterfield by Justice Martin Hurst.
“We’ve helped take down this criminal gang which generated more than £7m in untaxed revenue from illegal internet streaming,” said H&F Council’s senior investigating officer Doug Love.
Six defendants were charged with conspiracy to defraud, with one charged with money laundering.
Gould, 36, pleaded guilty to two counts, the second arising from continuing offending after his initial arrest, and contempt of court from a breach of the financial restraining order.
Stephen Gordon, 47, of Morecambe pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years and nine months for two counts of conspiracy.
Peter Jolley, 42, of Skelmersdale also pleaded guilty and received five years and two months behind bars on two counts of conspiracy, with two years six months consecutively for money laundering.
Christopher Felvus, 37, of Pontypool pleaded guilty and received three years and 11 months for conspiracy to defraud.
William Brown, 34, of Stoke was convicted after trial on two counts of conspiracy to defraud and was sentenced to four years and nine months.
Zak Smith, 30, of Bridgnorth did not appear for sentencing, but had pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud and will be sentenced when he is apprehended.
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