A Sheffield crook who sold stolen designer shoes and fake watches and boots on eBay has been jailed for four-and-a-half years. Kevin Johnson even had the cheek to advertise counterfeit items thieved from a Trading Standards warehouse which still had their police tags.
Sheffield Crown Court heard Johnson, aged 47, of Birley Moor Drive, handled goods stolen from ‘professionally planned’ break-ins at two warehouses in the east end of the city. Prosecutor Ian Goldsdack said the Darnall premises of vintage clothing firm Rocket Originals were raided in July, 2012 and £48,000 in clothes, shoes and accessories taken.
A regular customer spotted some of the shoes being advertised on eBay a month later and Johnson was arrested but denied knowing the items were stolen. More of the shoes were later found at lock-up garages in Occupation Lane near Johnson’s home and empty shoe boxes at his house.
Johnson was also warned off by police after contacting the firm’s owners by email. He continued trading while on police bail and the Trading Standards warehouse at Carbrook Business Park was broken into in March 2014 and counterfeit boots worth up to £9,000 and replica watches uk valued up to £15,000 were stolen. Some of these were also found in the garages.
Three co-accused are yet to face court proceedings and divorcee Johnson was said by the prosecution to have recruited them into the enterprise. Johnson also threatened his nephew Lee Rogers and his wife. The garages were registered to Mr Rogers but ‘controlled’ by Johnson, said Mr Goldsack.
The defendant asked Mr Rogers to tell police he had sold the lock-ups but Mr Rogers said he would tell the truth. Johnson, who was imprisoned for two years in 2002 for causing grievous bodily harm to another relative, threatened him over the phone at work and made false allegations to social services that he was mixed up with drugs.
Mr Rogers, who has two children, told police he and his wife Leonie were ‘absolutely petrified’ and he was worried Johnson might turn up at his house and assault him. They had installed CCTV at their home and his wife was frightened to go out of the house with the kids. Mr Goldsack said: “One of their sons kept asking if Uncle Kevin is going to kill his dad.”
The court heard the couple who run Rocket Originals had to borrow money from the bank to keep their fledgling business afloat. Johnson admitted conspiracy to convert criminal property between July, 2012 and April, 2014 and witness intimidation. Anthony Kelbrick, defending, said Johnson had been on remand since last June when he was arrested for the intimidation offence.
“He has some mental health issues and is not an intelligent man,” he said. “He is not blessed with a considerable amount of intelligence.” Judge Robert Moore said: “You took delivery of many of the shoes and used your eBay account to sell them and stored some of them in garages owned by you.”
He said others were ‘above him’ in the burglaries and handling and added: “It may be you were paying some of the proceeds to these other people.” The Judge said he caused ‘genuine and widespread fear’ with the threats to his nephew. Johnson was also given a 10-year restraining order barring him from contacting the Rogers and another couple or going within 200 yards of their homes.