City hairdresser fined £5,400 at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court

Hairdresser Andreas Lazarou appeared at Cardiff Magistrates' Court charged with possessing 1,534 illegal items including unsafe children's costumes and counterfeit Pokémon toys.

Mr Lazarou, who has a barbers shop in Tudor Street in Riverside, pleaded guilty to 12 charges when he appeared at the court on August 14th.

A further 32 offences were taken into account by the Magistrate.

The investigation by the Shared Regulatory Services started in July 2016 when information was received that Ialpha World, trading from 373 Cowbridge Road East, Canton, was selling counterfeit children's fancy dress outfits.

On October 11th, 2016, Ialpha World was raided by trading standards officers and 1534 items were seized.

Samples from all the items taken were sent to specialists to find out if they were genuine and whether they met all safety requirements.

It was revealed that all of the children's superhero costumes were counterfeit and samples from all of the other items failed at least one of the safety requirements, including draw strings that were deemed to be a strangulation hazard and internal fibrous material that were deemed to be a choking hazard.

The shop raided by trading standards officers in Cowbridge Road East- Ialpha World - was rentedand run by a company called Ialpha Hair Ltd.

The investigation revealed that Andreas Lazarou, from Hanson Court, Heol Glan Rheidol in Cardiff, was one of two directors that owned this company.

A later interview with Mr Lazarou revealed that he was solely responsible for sourcing and purchasing all of the illegal items found by trading standards officers.

Ialpha Hair Ltd went into liquidation on September 23rd2016.

During the hearing on Monday, in mitigation,Brendon O'Leary, representing Mr Lazarou, told the court that he was a hairdresser by trade and established Ialpha Hair Ltd as a separate venture to supplement his income.

Mr Lazarou claimed that he started the business without any knowledge or qualifications in the industry and did not know what he was getting himself into and the offences were a result of complete naivety.

He bought the goods from the internet and believed they were legitimate and had even paid VAT when they were imported into the UK.

It was also made clear that Mr Lazarou gave a full and frank interview under caution and provided trading standards with assistance throughout the investigation.

During the sentencing, the Magistrate fined Mr Lazarou £350 for each offence relating to the counterfeit goods and £500 for each of the safety offences.

The total fine imposed was £5,400 and he was also ordered to pay £1,000 in costs with a victim surcharge of £50.

Councillor Michael Michael, Cabinet Member with responsibility for the Shared Regulatory Service between Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan Council, said: "This case shows how important it is to check and check again before importing goods from abroad to be sold in the UK.

"Safety standards are in place for a reason. I would like to thank all of the officers involved in this investigation.

"The fine imposed by the court sends a clear message that these offences are taken seriously.

"Our officers will continue to act on any intelligence we receive to take unsafe and counterfeit goods off the streets."