A criminal found guilty of supplying illegal streaming devices (ISDs) providing unauthorised access to Premier League content has been ordered to pay back more than £520,000 (€609,000) to the ‘public purse’.
In April 2018, John Dodds was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison having pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to defraud. Dodds sold ISDs to hundreds of pubs and clubs in North East England as well as deceiving customers who were regularly left with faulty devices. Upon his initial arrest, Dodds attempted to prevent evidence being discovered by the police. He was found to be hiding the keys to a car full of equipment and documentation, including a list of all his clients.
At Newcastle Crown Court February 27th, Dodds was ordered to pay back £521,000 within three months or face his prison sentence being extended by an additional five years.
On issuing the Order, the judge described Dodds as an unreliable and dishonest character. Dodds was found to have concealed proceeds of his criminal activities by hiding large amounts of cash in his house and placing property assets in his daughter’s name, in what the judge found to be ‘a sham’.
“This is a welcome judgment and we are pleased the courts have recognised how serious an issue illegal streaming is – it is a crime which has very significant consequences,” asserted Kevin Plumb, Premier League Director of Legal Services said. “The defendant has now been ordered to forfeit the proceeds of his criminal activities, which we have requested go directly back to the public purse. The money recovered will go towards funding the courts and law enforcement agencies to help continue the brilliant work they do in helping bring people like this to justice.”
The arrest followed an investigation led by the Premier League working in partnership with copyright protection body FACT. “Today’s court order shows emphatically that providing illegal streaming services is a serious criminal offence that will result in a prison sentence for fraud and additional financial consequences,” declared Kieron Sharp CEO of FACT. “This is a warning to anyone selling subscriptions or devices that allow access to content without remunerating the legitimate provider – you risk time in jail and the loss of your properties, cars and other proceeds of crime.”
“FACT will continue to work with members to crackdown on illegal streaming and to hold those behind it accountable for their action,” he confirmed.
A range of North East bodies, including North East GAIN and The National Trading Standards Regional Investigation Team, played key supporting roles in the investigation.
“Mr Dodds orchestrated the sale of hundreds of devices that undermined legitimate businesses and ripped off consumers, with many customers paying for Kodi-style boxes and equipment that were faulty,” noted Lord Toby Harris, Chair, National Trading Standards. “The long prison sentence, combined with the additional confiscation orders announced this week, send a strong message that crime does not pay. This case clearly demonstrates that providing access to unauthorised streams and content is illegal and anyone engaging in piracy of this nature is liable to prosecution.”