Belfast Telegraph

Ex-police officer avoids jail over counterfeit movie and music copying operation

BY JOHN CASSIDY

A former police officer received a suspended prison sentence for running a professional counterfeit movie and music copying operation from his family home.

Andrew Desmond Donaldson (37), of Baronscourt Avenue, Carryduff, Co Down, made £33,000 profit from his scam over a seven- year period whilst he was a serving policeman, Belfast Crown Court heard.

Donaldson had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to a single charge of distributing art which infringed copyright.

The court was told the copying scam was uncovered when Donaldson's home and his Banbridge police station were searched on January 15, 2011, by PSNI officers investigating him for misconduct in public office and breaching the Data Protection Act.

A Crown lawyer said Donaldson was found to have been unlawfully passing information to a "female civilian'' and subsequently received a nine-month prison sentence suspended for one year after he admitted the charges.

Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland was told that during the search of Donaldson's home police uncovered the counterfeiting operation which involved CDs and DVDs, along with computers, memory sticks, hard drives and mobile phones.

The material seized at his home was examined by the PSNI's 'E' Crime Unit who found "significant quantities of music and videos on them''.

Ebay accounts were used through which the "offending material was being distributed to customers''.

The court heard the counterfeiting operation had been running from 2004 until July 2011.

The loss to artists was estimated to be in the region of £45,000.

Judge McFarland sentenced Donaldson to two years in prison suspended for two years. No order for compensation was made and the judge granted a destruction order for all material seized.

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