A Newry pensioner who admitted possessing and selling hundreds of fake designer handbags walked free from court today (Tuesday) with a suspended jail sentence.
Imposing a 12 month jail sentence on Roseleen Ann D’Arcy but suspending it for two years, Judge Paul Ramsey KC said it was a “sad case in many respects” for a 67-year-old with a clear record to find herself in the dock facing serious charges.
He told Newry Crown Court it is “clear she has learned her lesson” and although he warned the pensioner the consequences of any further offences would mean she has to serve the 12 months in addition to any other sentence, “I do not think that this lady will see a court again”.
At an earlier hearing, D’Arcy, from Windsor Bank in Newry, entered guilty pleas to a total of 13 charges including one of converting £86,820 cash of criminal property, between January 21, 2018 and July 24, 2022, 11 charges of having items in breach of registered trademarks “with a view to make a gain for yourself or another or with intent to cause loss to another and without the consent of the proprietor” and one of selling handbags “which bore a sign identical to, or likely to be mistaken for, a registered trade mark,” all committed at her home on September 1, 2022.
While there are various fashion houses named in the trademark offences including Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Givinchy, Prada, Balenciaga and Christian Dior, Judge Ramsey revealed during his sentencing remarks that nearly 500 items of counterfeit designer goods were seized including handbags, shoes, T-shirts and sunglasses.
Summarising the Crown case, the judge told the court that, acting on intelligence, officers raided D’Arcy’s home and seized the various items, describing the scene as an “Aladdin’s cave”.
Investigators who froze her assets and banks account established that just over £86,000 had been fed through her Santander personal account and when D’Arcy was arrested and interviewed, the pensioner made “full and frank admissions” and confessed to police that she makes £200-250 on each bag.
Judge Ramsey said there were aggravating features to the offending including the length of time the offending was committed and the “significant personal financial gain” but that in mitigation, the defendant had admitted her guilt and had a clear record.
Defence counsel Kevin Magill described how D’Arcy “almost fell into the offending” in that the sun-worshiper had been on holiday to Dubai, came back with a bag that a friend commented on and that created a scenario where the friend asked D’Arcy to “bring her one back next time she was there”.
“That’s how it started and that developed into a way of helping her finance her trips to the sun,” said the barrister, adding that selling items to customers, mainly by “word of mouth…people knew what they were buying”.
Mr Magill submitted that “this is not a lady who planned to engage in a criminal enterprise…but the important thing is that she has learned her lesson” and he highlighted that since her first arrest, D’Arcy has been splashed across local daily and Sunday newspapers.
“She remarked to me on the way in that she doesn’t want to see another handbag…and she now wants to get back to work and have the odd holiday,” the barrister concluded.
In passing sentence, Judge Ramsey said while the custody threshold had been crossed, given her clear record and early admissions, he could suspend the jail sentence.