Honey scam couple fined

A COUPLE who bought cheap honey and sold it to shopkeepers falsely claiming it was made in Norfolk have been fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £90,000 costs.

A COUPLE who bought cheap honey and sold it to shopkeepers falsely claiming it was made in Norfolk have been fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £90,000 costs.

William Baker, 59, and his wife Lynn, 55, from Bury St Edmunds, carried out a “deliberate and dishonest scam” by using honey from countries such as Argentina and China in their product, a court heard.

They were found guilty of 12 counts of obtaining property by deception following a three-week trial at King's Lynn Crown Court in December last year.

A further 12 charges of making a false description of food were ordered to lie on the file.

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Sentencing the couple yesterday at Norwich Crown Court, Judge Alasdair Darroch said: “This was a lengthy and persistent deception involving a number of wholly innocent traders who were selling honey which was not of the quality demanded.

“I have no doubt that this was an entirely dishonest activity, although there was some legitimate honey production.

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“I have already indicated it is not necessary to send you to prison and I am not going to do so.”

Judge Darroch fined Mr Baker £5,000 and Mrs Baker £3,000, with no separate penalty for the other charges.

He added: “I consider you were dishonest. You consider yourselves the victims, which you most decidedly were not.”

He ordered each to pay £35,000 towards prosecution costs and £10,000 towards defence costs.

He also ordered the forfeiture of the honey equipment and remaining honey.

During the trial, the court heard that the Bakers supplied customers with 17.7 tonnes of the falsely- named product between January 2001 and September 2003.

The jars bearing the the label Norfolk honey were then unwittingly sold by dozens of small businesses across the county.

Sales on “honey runs” around greengrocers, butchers, post offices and other traders in Norfolk during that time were said to have totalled nearly £70,000.

The Bakers' actions only came to light when a beekeeper became suspicious and Norfolk County Council's trading standards department was alerted.

During his opening speech, Miles Bennett, prosecuting, said: “In short it was a scam and quite a deliberate and dishonest scam.”

He added: “This was a cottage industry on a rather larger scale.”

Speaking after the hearing, David Baldry, assistant head of Norfolk County Council's trading standards department, said: “In terms of food cases this is the largest one we have ever had and we are very pleased with the outcome.

“This is about the livelihood of our genuine producers of Norfolk honey, who clearly invest a lot of time and money in their businesses, and it is important that we as an enforcement authority protect them.”

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